If streaming is the future, then the future is officially upon us.
It’s no secret that the advent of music streaming has been rapid, vast, and unrelenting. However, if there was any doubt that we’re definitively in the streaming “era” it’s dashed courtesy of telling new statistics.
Today the RIAA revealed that in 2015 streaming officially became the largest source of revenue for the US music industry – overtaking digital downloads and physical sales.
Peruse the chart below…
Per the report, all parts of the streaming music market grew last year, and total streaming revenues exceeded $2 billion for the first time ever. Combining all categories of streaming music (subscription, ad-supported on-demand, and SoundExchange distributions), revenues grew 29% to $2.4 billion in 2015.
These figures will no doubt have influenced the RIAA’s recent decision to include streams in their Gold and Platinum album certifications, a move which came after Billboard begun factoring streams into chart placements. The latter, when introduced, controversially saw the ‘Empire’ season 1 soundtrack best Madonna‘s ‘Rebel Heart’ album on the Billboard 200 – despite selling less physical units.
If there’s one thing that is consistent in life – it’s change. And times are a’changing.
It’s a weird one for us.
Because, like many of you, we were reared in an era of not too distant past where physical sales were the main determiner of what was hot and what was..well…not.
Yet, we’ve quite literally seen the emergence and now dominance of digital streaming. Hence, we’ve also observed the necessity for all – artists and fans alike – to adapt to the times.
It’s interesting because it’s clear that this is just the beginning. As the industry shape-shifts and acclimatises to the new “way,” we imagine it’ll will bring about fiercer competition between the Spotifys, TIDALs, Apple Musics, and the like. Which in turn should see each platform strive to push exclusivity from top artists to drive subscriber numbers.
What’s more, with streaming now the most lucrative source of revenue for music’s main players, it’s only a matter of time before albums debut on streaming platforms prior to hitting physical or digital retail. There’s money to be made and streaming is the primary way to make it.
That said, there continues to be debate on the artist side about how much of that revenue they ever receive (see: TIDAL artist-owners main argument), as well as among feuding fans who are struggling to rationalise how an act that isn’t selling is somehow charting.
We want to throw it over to you, though…
Is this latest revelation a reminder of the need to “adapt or die” or an indication that the industry itself is dying?
Let us know below…