U.S. Recording Industry Dips Slightly, Streaming and Vinyl Jump

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The RIAA today (Mar. 18) released its figures for 2014, accounting a slight decline in revenue for the year, marking the U.S. music industry's value at $6.97 billion. That's a 0.47% decline over 2013, when the industry was valued at $7 billion.

Within that, digital revenue grew to $4.5 billion, up 3.2% from $4.37 billion. Physical music sales dropped 7.1% to $2.27 billion, down from $2.44 billion.

The story within digital remains intriguing. While streaming revenue jumped nearly 29% -- to $1.87 billion from $1.45 billion -- download sales fell 9.5%, to $2.64 billion from $2.92 billion. That means that overall digital grew by $140 million, 3.2%, to $4.5 billion, up from $4.37 billion in the prior year.

Looking more closely at digital streaming revenue, paid subscriptions' value jumped to nearly $800 million, via 7.7 million subscribers, up 25% from 2013's $639 million in revenue and 6.2 million subscribers. The RIAA also reports that ad-supported streaming services' contribution to the overall U.S. music industry grew 34%, to nearly $295 million -- from $220 million in the prior year -- while SoundExchange distributions grew 31%, to $773.4 million.

CD albums fell 12.3%, to $1.85 billion from $2.12 billion in 2013. Overall CD sales, on a unit basis, were down 16.3%m to 144.1 million from $172.2 million. Offsetting that unit decline, the average CD list price grew to $12.87 from $12.33, showing that the music consumers who still like to own their music are embracing higher-priced, deluxe versions of albums. That trend is not, however, reflected in the digital album market, where the average album list price fell to $9.78, from $10.44 in 2013. The price decline in digital albums is due to more aggressive strategies from labels, in response to last year's plummeting digital sales.

On a bright note, vinyl sales continued to grow, contributing $320.8 million to the total pie, from the prior year's total of $213.7 million -- a 50% growth.