Mar 23, 2021 - Economy & Business

Global streaming music revenue hits all-time high

music note in neon light with colors blue and pink

Photo: Getty Images

Streaming music revenue now accounts for 62% of global recorded music sales, or $13.4 billion, an all-time high, according to a report out Tuesday from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Why it matters: Streaming revenue helped offset declines in physical format sales and performance rights revenues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which dipped close to 5% and 10% respectively. Now the industry is in its sixth consecutive year of growth — driven largely by streaming — after seeing 12 years of flat or declining sales.

By the numbers: The size of last year's streaming revenue is up from $11.2 billion in 2019. For comparison, at its low point in 2014, the global recorded music industry saw $14 billion in total revenue.

  • Physical sales made up 97% of all recorded music sales, or $23 billion, 20 years ago.
  • In 2006, revenue from streaming made up less than 1% of all recorded music sales.

The big picture: Paid subscriptions were the key driver of streaming revenues, with growth around 19%.

  • Streaming now represents more than half of global recorded music sales in 48 markets.
  • Streaming revenue dominated the Latin American recorded music industry, making up 84% of the region’s total.
  • A separate report from the RIAA in February found that 83% of U.S. recorded music sales came from streaming. 

The state of play: BTS, Taylor Swift and Drake were the top three most popular and best-selling global recording artists last year.

  • The Weeknd’s "Blinding Lights" was the top digital single. BTS’ "Map of the Soul: 7" was number one in album sales. 
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