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RIAA stats confirm 9% growth in US recorded music market so far this year

By | Published on Thursday 22 September 2022


The Recording Industry Association Of America has published some stats about the US recorded music market in the first half of 2022. Want to know what they are? Well, the recorded music sector’s retail revenues were up 9% to $7.7 billion, with wholesale revenues up 8% to $4.9 billion. Good times!

Why the good times? Because of the ongoing streaming boom of course! The number of paying subscribers to streaming services in the US is up to 90 million, with revenues at said services up 10% to a nice and neat $5 billion. All the different streaming services together now account for 84% of recorded music revenues. Though vinyl revenues were up 22% in the first half of the year too, ensuring that physical products still account for 10% of the market overall.

Pessimists might point out that a year ago the RIAA was bragging about retail revenue increases of 27% and wholesale revenue increases of 25%. But still, the biggest recorded music market in the world is still in growth and optimists reckon that, with a slowly diversifying digital music market – and new kinds of digital music services and digital services that use music increasing in importance – there is still lots more growth potential, even once subscription streaming starts to reach market saturation.

So, what to make of all this? Well, says RIAA boss Mitch Glazier, these results “reflect the incredible creative and commercial partnerships artists and labels have forged that have powered another extremely successful half year”. And “today’s report is good news for artists, songwriters, streaming services and fans – everyone with a stake in music’s future. We truly are seeing the power of recorded music’s rising tide to lift all boats across the music family”.

So, that’s one way to respond to the latest RIAA stats. But, you know, you should all respond in whatever way you feel is appropriate. To help with that, we’ve identified ten possible responses you could go with. Feel free to pick any of them! Or maybe mix and match for extra fun.

1. Woo! More growth! More money! What an amazing time to be in the business of recorded music!

2. Oh dear, those growth rates are down aren’t they? That’s a worry. Basically we’re all fucked!

3. And they said the vinyl revival was a short-term bubble! They’re idiots! Fucking idiots I tell you!

4. With all that money slushing around the record industry, why are so many artists broke? That’s weird isn’t it?

5. If you think these stats are impressive, just wait until the Web3 revolution has unfolded! Everyone’s gonna be a billionaire, honest!

6. Come on record labels, look at all that cash, can’t you ALL start paying modern royalty rates to heritage acts?

7. Sync’s still only 2% everybody! Stop exaggerating the value of sync everybody! And it’s ‘sync’ not ‘synch’!

8. I know I keep talking about the diversifying digital market and all that – but blimey, it’s still all about premium subscriptions at the moment isn’t it? 78% of streaming income! And that’s not including nonsense like Amazon Prime and Pandora Plus.

9. Yeah, yeah, well done everybody, but we all know the record industry is only doing this well because of the continued undervaluation of the songs. Come on, let’s give that digital pie a big old re-slice! Why won’t someone – anyone – think of the songwriters?!

10. Whose still buying all these downloads? I mean, it’s only 3% of the market, but that’s still a lot of downloads!

This story is discussed on this edition of our Setlist podcast.