U.S. Recorded Music Revenues Hit All-Time High of $8.4B in First Half of 2023: RIAA

U.S. Recorded Music Revenues Hit All-Time High of $8.4B in First Half of 2023: RIAA

Recorded-music revenues in the United States grew 9.3% in the first half of 2023, reaching an all-time mid-year high of $8.4 billion at retail value, the RIAA said in its mid-year report released today (Sept. 18). That reflects a second year in a row of 9% increases at the mid-year mark, as growth steadies after the upheaval of the pandemic led to market unpredictability.

Once again streaming was the primary driver of both revenue and growth, increasing 10.3% over the first half of 2022 to reach $7 billion, accounting for 84% of all revenue and marking the fourth year in a row that it has accounted for 83%-84% of the overall total.


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Paid subscription streaming accounted for the bulk of that number, growing 11% year over year to $5.5 billion, up from $5 billion halfway through 2022 — making up 65.4% of the total revenue figure, and 78.6% of streaming. Notably, the RIAA points out that subscription streaming revenue is growing at a faster rate than the average number of subscriptions — the latter number is up to 95.8 million, from 90 million last year, up 6% — suggesting that some of the price hikes instituted by digital service providers like Apple Music and Amazon Music have begun yielding results. (Increases from YouTube Music Premium and Spotify are too recent to be reflected in the first half of this year.)

Ad-supported streaming, however, is a different story. Total revenue from such services was essentially flat year-over-year, at $870 million, up just 0.6% from 2022. Digital and customized radio revenues were up 16% year over year, reaching $657 million; within that, SoundExchange distributions ticked up 7% to $498 million.

Overall, sales revenue reached $1.1 billion, up slightly from the same period last year, with the growth in physical sales offsetting a decline in digital downloads. Digital sales accounted for just 3% of revenues, and dropped 12% year over year to $225, with digital albums dropped 12% to $107 million and digital tracks declining 14% to $97 million.

Meanwhile, physical revenues of $882 million marked the highest level since the first half of 2013, growing 5% year over year. Vinyl continued to dominate, accounting for 72% ($632 million) of the sector, despite growing just 1.3% year over year, while CD revenue grew 14.3%, to $236 million. Vinyl, for the third year in a row, outsold CDs. But as a window into how prices are changing, unit sales of both vinyl (down 1.8% to 23.4 million) and CDs (down 17.2% to 15.1 million) both declined, despite those increases in the revenue derived from them.

“This report describes a thriving, growing music ecosystem that continues to reach new heights and shape our culture,” RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Glazier said in a statement accompanying the report. “And it reflects the creative human genius and hard work of all the artists, songwriters, labels, publishers and services who make the music happen and meet fans and audiences where they are in today’s forward looking and innovative music community.”

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