Major Label Interest in Hi-Res Music Surging, Says RIAA

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The majors are releasing some 1,000 studio-quality albums per month -- fueling a 29 percent surge in the past year.

For the first time ever, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) has revealed how many high-resolution music titles are available in the United States for downloads and streaming.    

The Washington, D.C.-based trade organization compiled research that shows more than 33,500 albums (or 400,000 tracks) of studio-quality formats are currently accessible to listeners. That's a 29 percent increase over a year ago, due largely to major labels releasing 1,000 studio-quality albums per month. Studio quality is defined as both hi-res audio (48khz/20-bit or higher) and the studio production format of 44.1 kHz/24-bit audio).    

RIAA chief technology officer David Hughes said, "Fans now have access to their favorite music in more ways than ever before, in more formats than ever before, and with better quality than ever before. To meet fans' growing demand for the highest-quality sound, labels have made the development of the hi-res music market a top priority. It’s another example of how labels continue to drive music forward and provide fans new ways to listen and engage with music."   

Data further shows the distribution of hi-res albums to be rather top-heavy: 77 percent of the RIAA's highest gold- and platinum-certified records, 79 percent of one major streaming service's top 100 all-time streamed tracks, 78 percent of Soundscan's top 100 albums of last year, and 68 percent of one major streaming service's top weekly tracks.  

   

The RIAA timed their report to coincide with a hi-res audio showcase during the 2019 MusicBiz Nashville conference, The Future Is Now Music Experience, which runs from May 5-7 at Nashville's JW Marriott Hotel.  

In 2017, the RIAA joined all three major labels, the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) and digital service providers including Pandora, Rhapsody/Napster and HD Tracks in annoucing their support for hi-res music streaming audio.