Matthias London

RIAA Music Revenue Statistics 2021: 27% recorded music growth on U.S. market

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New data from the RIAA mid-year 2021 music industry revenue statistics showed that the U.S recorded music industry revenues grew 27% compared to 2020. The report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) indicates that listeners value and engage with recorded music: Revenues rose from $5.6 to $7.1 billion at retail value.

Streaming accounted for 84% of the revenues generated in the first half of 2021. The RIAA music industry revenue statistics showed that, in total numbers, streaming revenues rose from $4.7 to $5.9 billion over the period. Although streaming is a multi-faceted category, 840 billion on-demand streams led to paid subscriptions as the main driver of streaming revenues. They accounted for almost 2/3 of total returns in the U.S., up 26% year-over-year and totaling $4.6 billion in the first half of 2021.

While the growth of digital subscription and streaming in an age of digitalization comes as no surprise, the data also shows a surging interest in vinyl. LP revenues rose from $240.9 million in 2020 to $467.4 million in 2021, marking a skyrocketing 94% increase compared to last year’s report. The unceasing demand for physical units demonstrates that listeners value the experience of vinyl. Although their purchasing motives are hidden, it is fair to assume that they include an awareness of the ongoing digitalization of the music industry and the economic inequalities produced by it.

Because overall, the report clearly indicates the music industry’s ongoing shift toward the digital sphere: The total value of digital revenue is 10 times as high as the revenue of physical units. Simultaneously, the trend toward paid subscriptions making up most of the industry’s profit is likely to continue.

The enduring digitalization of the music industry is certain; but the 2021 RIAA music industry revenue statistics reveal a much more urgent truth: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has experienced the slashing of revenues from the live sector, which relentlessly exposed that profit is monopolized in the hands of one-size-fits-all streaming providers – as opposed to record labels or music producers. The report is an invitation for the entire music sector to reflect on the ways revenues can be re-distributed within the industry to enable artists and producers to create the music we so love and urge.

Image Credit: RIAA

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