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US music revenue grows 10% to $4.6bn in first half of 2018

Posted on: Thursday 11th of October 2018

Half year figures from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) show US recorded music revenue grew 10% to $4.6bn at retail. Streaming is driving growth, with revenue increasing to $3.35bn, up 28.4% from the first half of 2017. Paid subscriptions grew to $2.55bn, up from $1.91bn, or a 33.3% increase, with ad-supported revenue nearly $498m, a 15.6% increase. 

A key point is that paid subscriptions to streaming services – the model once decried as ‘unable to compete with free’ – are growing vigorously. Paid streaming subscribers at the end of the first half of 2018 totalled 46.3m, a 47.4% jump from the 31.5m subscribers counted at the mid-year point in 2017. In November 2002, when I profiled fledgling online music services, I jumped on something Matt Graves of Listen.com said: “Music doesn’t have to be free, but it should feel free. If you put it out there at an affordable price in a way that makes it fun to explore and learn more about music, people will pay.” 

It may have taken 15 years, but a new generation of music listeners now finds it completely normal to pay a small amount each month to access music. The new challenge is music discovery. According to figures from Nielsen, more than 70,000 different albums were released in the US by mid-year. Finding an audience amongst an extraordinary range of music choices is the new challenge.



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