RIAA Reports Highest-Ever $15 Billion in Recorded Music Revenue

The Recording Industry Association of America released its 2021 year-end revenue statistics, reporting that overall revenue for recorded music had reached a record $15 billion, bolstered by the continued growth of streaming and vinyl sales. This year’s streaming revenues—paid subscriptions, ad-supported streaming services, digital and customized radio, Facebook and digital fitness app licensing, and for the first time, TikTok—grew 24% in 2021 to a total of $12.4 billion, accounting for 83% of total revenues, similar to 2020. Check out the full report below.

Vinyl continues to make gains for the 15th consecutive year; even as overall physical sales stagnated in 2020, with many retail outlets closed to the public during nationwide lockdowns, revenue rose almost 30% that year, and 61%—to $1.0 billion—in 2021, accounting for 63% of revenues from physical formats. The last time vinyl records exceeded $1 billion in sales was 1986.

Other big gains were made in ad-supported on demand streaming revenues (like Spotify’s free tier, YouTube, and Pandora), up nearly 47% to 1.76 billion from 1.2 billion in 2020. And from 2019 to 2021, the average number of paid subscriptions grew 39%, while paid subscription revenues grew 40% over the same two-year period.

As streaming and vinyl grow year after year, download revenues continue to slide, down 11.7% to 586M from 664M in 2020. And while CD sales jumped 21% after dropping in 2020—the first time since the 80s that vinyl outsold CDs—they still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, while overall revenue has never been higher, the RIAA says the industry is still 40% smaller than it was at its peak in 1999 when adjusted for inflation.


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