The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released its 2015 full-year numbers, which arrive bearing both good and bad news.
The good: The U.S. recorded music business brought in more money last year than the year prior -- by a slim margin -- reporting revenues of $7.016 billion, up from from $6.951 billion, an increase of 0.09 percent.
The bad: While streaming explodes, the RIAA's numbers, when measured against Nielsen Music unit counts, point to the the per-stream rate dropping, as overall streaming revenue is on the rise. Billboard estimates, when the RIAA's dollar numbers for interactive paid and ad-supported streams are plotted against Nielsen Music's streaming counts for 2015 -- of 317.2 billion streams -- and for 2014 -- of 164.5 billion streams -- the blended interactive per-stream rate for audio and video drops 24 percent, to $0.00506 in 2015, from $0.00666 in 2014. (Note that this blended rate is a rough estimate; services all pay differently, and the RIAA's numbers are extrapolated to reflect the per-stream rate at retail, while the ad-supported streams are not. The retail rate doesn't reflect what is paid to labels, and thus artists.)