A big jump in revenue from streaming services allowed the overall revenue of the music industry to grow 11 percent last year, to $7.7 billion in retail sales ($5.3 billion wholesale, up 9.3 percent), according to the industry group RIAA. And, for the first time, streaming services accounted for half of all digital music revenue.

On the flip side, paid downloads saw their biggest-ever decline, down 22 percent in 2016, to $1.8 billion. And, as RIAA chief Cary Sherman notes, the music business is still half of what it once was.

Expand chart
Data: The Recording Industry Association of America; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
As excited as we are about our growth in 2016, our recovery is fragile and fraught with risk. The marketplace is still evolving, and we've experienced unexpected turns too many times before. Moreover, two of the three pillars of the business — CDs and downloads — are declining rapidly. It remains to be seen whether growth of the remaining pillar will be sufficient to offset the losses from the other two. Much rides on a streaming market that must fairly recognize the enormous value of music.

Here are a couple other key other stats from the report:

  • Paid subscription music was the fastest growing category, more than doubling, to $2.5 billion and accounting for roughly 1/3 of the total U.S. music industry.
  • Sales of physical music — aka CDs and records — fell 16 percent, to $1.7 billion.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated the retail sales and percentage growth of streaming music.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022
  2. Politics: Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases
  4. Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Many of the states where coronavirus cases have recently skyrocketed are also seeing the highest death rates in the nation, a painful reminder that wherever the virus goes, death eventually follows.

Between the lines: Deaths usually lag behind cases by a few weeks. Given America's record-high case counts, it's reasonable to expect that death rates across the country will continue to rise in tandem.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Science

Pandemic scrambles Americans' acceptance of science

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic is throwing a wrench into Americans' understanding of science, which has big implications for climate change.

Driving the news: Recent focus groups in battleground states suggest some voters are more skeptical of scientists in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, while surveys reveal the persistence of a deep partisan divide.