RIAA H1 2019: Streaming is 80% of music revenue; subscriptions deliver $3.3 billion

The RIAA half-year report points to new highs for the United States’ music market, with the sector on track to break annual revenue of $10 billion.

Retail revenue in the first six months of 2019 totaled $5.4 billion, up from $4.6 billion in the same period of 2018 and $4.2 billion in 2017. Streaming generated $4.3 billion of that total, or 80% of the industry’s revenue. The share of streaming is continuing to grow, after posting 75% of U.S. music revenue in the RIAA’s first half and full-year reports from 2018.

Paid subscription streaming delivered $3.3 billion in revenue, up 31% from the year-ago period. That result means subscriptions are responsible for 77% of streaming revenue and 62% of the total revenue figures for the half. Subscription revenue included $482 million from limited tier plans, which accounts for services such as Amazon Prime and Pandora Plus.

The growing revenue share from paid subscriptions is tied to similar increases in the number of paid music subscriptions in the period. There are now 61.1 million active on-demand streaming service subscriptions in the country, up 30% from the year-ago period. The current growth rate shows an average of more than 1 million new subscriptions added per month over the last year. This figure excludes limited tier subsctipions.

Ad-supported streaming revenue also grew, but remains a small sliver of the overall totals. This segment increased year-on-year revenue 25% to $427 million. It represented just 10% of the streaming revenue.

As streaming continues to dominate the U.S. music industry, digital downloads have reported corresponding declines in revenue. Digital download revenue fell 18% in the first half to $462 million. That included dips of 16% for individual track sales and 23% for digital album sales.

Physical product sales reversed a long phase of decline, posting 5% growth in revenue to reach $485 million for the first six months. These sales represented 9% of the total industry revenue during the period. The notable growth was vinyl album revenue rising 13% to $224 million.

Anna Washenko