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Recorded Music Revenue Tops $15 Billion For The First Time in 2021

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(CelebrityAccess) — Recorded-music revenues in the United States reached a record of $15 billion in 2021, up 23% from the previous year.

During the period covered by the report, all major formats of recorded music saw growth over the previous year, except for digital downloads.

However, it should be no surprise that digital subscription-based music streaming continued to be the leading driver of revenue. In all, streaming, both ad-supported and subscription grew 24% in 2021 to total $12.4 billion and accounted for 83% of total revenues – a similar level to 2020.

Revenue from subscription streaming accounted for the largest share of revenues, expanding by 23% year-over-year to generate 9.5 billion in 2021, the sixth consecutive year of growth. At wholesale value, 2021 revenues were up 22% to $9.8 billion.

Physical product enjoyed growth as well in 2021, and for the first time since 1996, both CDs and vinyl experienced revenue growth in the same year. Vinyl in particular, was a bright spot and for the first time since 1986, revenue from vinyl records topped $1 billion in 2021, marking their 15th consecutive year of growth.

Revenues from CDs picked up in 2021 after suffering in 2020 after tours were sidelined and many retail locations were forced to close. In 2021, CDs generated revenue of $584 million, up by 21% and the first year-over-year period of revenue growth for the medium.

Digital downloads weighed on recorded music revenues for 2021, generating $587 million and down 12% from the previous year. Individual track sales were down by 16% to $256 million in 2021 and represented just 4% of recorded music revenues in 2021.

While 2021’s revenue does officially set a record for nominal value, when adjusted for inflation, the 2021 figures remain 37% below the $14.6 billion reported in revenue generated by recorded music in the U.S. in 1999.

“A little more than twenty years ago, music faced a wrenching transition in the face of devastating piracy. It took some time to find the right approach but we refused to give up, embracing new technologies while protecting creators’ work and forging creative partnerships with artists in new and mutually beneficial ways. Today, that work is paying off in a stunning music boom that is powering new opportunities and revenue streams for artists, labels, songwriters, publishers, digital services, and the entire music community – while giving fans unprecedented experiences, choice, access, and value,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier wrote in an op-ed published by MusicBusinessWorldwide.

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