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U.S. Recorded Music Revenues Grew 9% In First Half of 2022: RIAA

Streaming subscriptions reached 90 million for the first time, while vinyl sales continued to balloon in the year's first six months.

Recorded-music revenues in the United States grew 9% in the first half of 2022, up to $7.7 billion from $7.0 billion at the same mark last year, the RIAA said in its mid-year report today (Sept. 21). That growth was, once again, spurred by streaming, which still accounts for 84% of all revenues — now at $6.5 billion, up 10% over the midyear mark in 2021 when it was $5.9 billion, even as its share of revenue stayed essentially flat.

Continuing the trend from the past several years, subscriptions drove the increases, accounting for 78% of all music revenues and up 10% at retail value to $5.0 billion. That figure, the RIAA notes, includes $525 million from what it calls “limited tier” subscriptions — the likes of Amazon Prime and Pandora Plus, which limit some on-demand or catalog access, as well as fitness apps and other similar categories — accounting for 10% of those revenues, up slightly from the first half of last year. Full-service subscribers averaged 90 million in the U.S., up from the 82 million in the first half of 2021, and now more than double the mark that the industry saw in the first half of 2018, when the average number of subscribers was 43.7 million in the country. (That figure excludes limited-tier subscriptions, and counts family plans as one subscription.)

Within that headline streaming mark, ad-supported streaming was up 16% to $871 million; while digital radio revenues and SoundExchange distributions dipped slightly (3%) to $566 million.

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On the sales front, physical continued its rebound, as vinyl has shown no signs of slowing down, and now accounts for 73% of the entire physical market, raking in $570 million by growing 22% over the first half of last year. CD sales dropped, though only slightly (2%), bringing in $200 million and making up 26% of physical revenues. Overall, physical was up 13.3% over the same period last year, accounting for $781 million and 10% of overall revenues.

Digital downloads, meanwhile, continued their downward slide, dropping 19.1% to just $256 million, or 3% of overall recorded-music revenues. Both digital track sales and digital download sales fell at a similar rate: the former down 19% to $113 million; the latter down 20% to $122 million, as the format continues to contract in the face of streaming dominance and vinyl’s now 20-year surge.

“Today’s report is good news for artists, songwriters, streaming services, and fans — everyone with a stake in music’s future,” RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Glazier said in a blog post alongside the figures. “We truly are seeing the power of recorded music’s rising tide to lift all boats across the music family.”