Streaming overtakes downloads, CDs and vinyl sales in the U.S.

Music sales also increased by double digits for the first time since 1994

A new report from the Record Industry Association of America says that in 2016, streaming overtook downloads, CDs and vinyl sales combined in the United States.

Streaming accounted for 51% of the industry’s overall revenue, according to the RIAA. Sales from digital downloads of albums and individual tracks decreased by 22% from 2015, while overall sales of physical music fell by 16%.

Due to the rise of streaming, overall industry revenue in the U.S. increased by 11% – it’s the first year-on-year double digit increase since 1994, and the best overall growth since 1998.


However, sales from recorded music in 2016 were around half of the $14.6 billion generated in 1999, an industry peak mostly owed to physical sales.

Revenue made from paid subscriptions – such as those from Spotify – totalled $2.26 billion, up 94.9% from 2015’s figures. RIAA’s report claims 22.6 million in the U.S. pay for music subscriptions, up from 10.8 million the previous year. Revenue made from free tier platforms, like YouTube and Spotify’s free service, brought in $469 million.

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