The RIAA Releases its Mid-Year Report

Music note on the dollar backgroundLast week, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) released its mid-year report, detailing trends, gains and losses in the music industry. Billboard analyzed the report and broke down the significant trends into five “takeaways.” Here’s what was found.

Streaming gains are offsetting decline in digital sales.

Digital revenues are down by 0.5%, largely due to the $15.5 million loss by ringbacks and ringtones. However, new streaming revenue sources have started to match the decrease in downloads.

Falling CD revenues have become less of a problem (but they’re still a problem).

CD sales have been (and can expect to continue to) dropping about 20% a year. So far this year, the revenue lost by CD sales is $168.5 million (23.7%). The good news is that vinyl sales are up by 42.8% ($43.7 million), but that doesn’t quite close the gap.

Paid music subscriptions aren’t big business yet.

At this point, these music services only are subscribed to by 2.5% of the US population. The subscription-based model doesn’t seem to be the problem as Netflix reaches 11.1% and Sirius XM reaches 8.3%. It just looks like the pay-for-music services hasn’t quite caught on.

Advertising is key to today’s digital music business.

The revenue from ad-based streaming is more profitable than the paid streaming subscriptions. Or as Billboard puts it, “people who don’t pay to access digital music are more valuable than people who do pay to access digital music.”

Film, TV, web and video game music revenue isn’t as big as it seems.

Although accounting for only 3% of the recorded music industry, sync revenue is on the decline by 10% ($88 million).

According to the report, the overall revenue of the music industry is down around 5%. Of course what isn’t reported is the cost of music production, which has declined significantly more than revenue sales. For just a fraction of the cost of a traditional album production, artists today can create a high-quality mix and master on their own. Moving forward, it’s likely the artists who take advantage of such advancements and trends who will thrive in the music industry, despite how rocky things look.