Streaming for the first time accounted for most recorded revenue in the United States last year.
According to figures released yesterday, this brought the industry its biggest growth in nearly twenty years.
While the massive expansion is welcome news for the music industry, which has been beset with challenges, overall revenue is still half the level from the late 1990s, before the online music revolution.
According to The Recording Industry Association of America, the overall revenue increased 11.4 percent in 2016 from a year before to $ 7.7 billion. This is the biggest annual gain since 1988.
The industry body revealed that the money from paid subscriptions to streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal more than doubled in the last year alone.
With the increased revenues, streaming accounted for 51 percent of the music industry’s earnings in 2016, up from 9 per cent in 2011.
However, streaming – which allows subscribers to select any song on-demand online – has led to losses among other formats, which have been bigger money-earners previously for artists.
Digital download platforms such as iTunes dropped 22 percent last year, while CD sales plummeted by a similar 21 percent.
Vinyl, however, was one of the exceptions, after experiencing a rebirth thanks to interest among serious collectors. However, Vinyl still showed modest growth, as it was up by only four percent.
Major record labels have praised streaming as a new way to boost the music industry, after years of struggles, starting with the practice of illegal downloads that kicked off in the 1990s.
It’s not all rosy, however, with many artists lamenting that they earn little from the boom in streaming.
Only a little of the revenue heads back to the musicians even though they are now enjoying a welcome new exposure outlet.