Well, this wasn’t something you’d expect, but it has happened for a number of reasons. According to the latest annual report from the Record Industry Association of American (RIAA), digital downloads have come in dead last, being outperformed by CDs, vinyl and other physical media. Since 2012, digital music downloads have been outselling physical media, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. Streaming has become increasingly popular and remains strong in its spot.
Physical media’s shipments have dropped 4 percent to $1.5 billion digital download revenues have fallen 25 percent to $1.3 billion in 2017, which puts CDs and vinyl back on top of non-streaming formats. Talking about streaming, it continues to outperform everything, however, accounting for almost two-thirds of the total US music industry revenues in 2017, representing the most growth in the sector.
A promising new streategy seems to be “limited tier” service. An example of this is Amazon’s unlimited Prime streaming to a single Echo speaker. “Limited tier” service includes Pandora Plus, and they all account for 14 percent of the whole subscription market, which is an up from 11 percent the prior year.
The US music industry is doing very well with revenues up $1.1 billion (wholesale) and $2 billion (retail) since 2015, so there’s steady improvements. For digital downloads, they brought in 15 percent of total music industry revenue and physical media accounted for 17 percent.