Every Dollar Earned by Music Biz Generates Another 50 Cents for US Economy: Study

Nashville, Tenn.
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Nashville, Tenn.

The country's music industry revenue grew to $113 billion in 2018 and contributed a total of $170 billion to the economy, according to a new RIAA report.

The U.S. music industry’s total impact on the country’s economy grew to $170 billion in 2018, generating an additional 50 cents of revenue on every dollar earned for adjacent industries such as tourism, hospitality and marketing, according to the RIAA’s new economic impact report released Wednesday (Feb. 9).

Music industry revenues in 2018 were $113 billion -- of which employee earnings were over $88 billion. Directly and indirectly, “total music supported employment” rose from 2.08 billion in 2015 to 2.47 billion in 2018, according to the report.

The study will be firepower for rights holders and trade groups seeking assistance from Congress. It “charts a course for state and federal policymakers to leverage music’s ability to produce strong economic growth and high-paying domestic jobs,” said Josh Friedlander, senior vp research and economics at the RIAA. After the Music Modernization Act’s passage in 2018, no additional copyright legislation should be expected any time soon, but the RIAA always presses issues, such as the lack of a performance right at broadcast radio, and conducts regular Congressional outreach through Grammys on the Hill events.

Despite the eye-grabbing numbers that reveal music’s wide-reaching impact, the pandemic’s damage to entertainment industries looms over the report. That was inevitable given the lag time in receiving the latest data from Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and private-sector datasets. Not that the report has lost value. The RIAA called the report “an important pre-COVID benchmark” for tracking a return to normalcy. That’s true, but the state of the music business in 2018 is far different from 2020 or 2021 when every aspect of music has been affected -- with some, such as touring, impacted far more than others.

Read the full report here.