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Subscriptions drive much more streaming music revenue

Data: Recording Industry Association of America; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Streaming now represents the majority of music revenue in the U.S., and of that revenue, the majority comes from paid subscription services, like Spotify and Apple Music, according to a new Recording Industry Association of America report.

  • Revenues reached record highs for the first half of the year among all music streaming categories, (paid subscriptions, digital and customized radio, and on-demand ad-supported streams).
  • But paid subscriptions were by far the biggest driver of growth, growing 61% to $1.7 billion, more than 500% the amount of streaming ad revenue ($273 million).

Why it matters: User growth has been the main revenue driver, according to RIAA's Joshua P. Friedlander. There have been nearly 1 million new music subscriptions per month compared to the prior year, with total U.S. paid music subscribers reaching an average of 30 million for the first half of the year — a record high.

Whereas news publishers and legacy media outlets have struggled to create direct-to-consumer relationships on mobile, the music industry has revolutionized them, and consumers are clearly willing to pay for that premium experience.

Mike Allen 3 hours ago
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A huge clue about Mueller's endgame

Robert Mueller testifies before Congress in 2013. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Axios has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller has focused on events since the election — not during the campaign — in his conversations with President Trump's lawyers. The top two topics that Mueller has expressed interest in so far: the firings of FBI director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Why it matters: That suggests a focus on obstruction of justice while in office, rather than collusion with Russia during the campaign. But both sagas are interwoven with Russia: Trump himself has linked Comey's firing to Russia, and Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

Amy Harder 5 hours ago
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Column / Harder Line

The swamp’s tug-o-war over America’s ethanol mandate

American eagle with corn in its claws
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

A biofuels standard Congress passed more than a decade ago in the name of rural development, energy security and climate change has devolved into an arcane fight over market share that has nothing to do with those initial three goals.

Why it matters: The law — called the renewable fuel standard that requires refineries to blend biofuels into gasoline — is a textbook example of how regulations create winners, losers and unintended consequences.