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US record industry revenues rise 18% as streaming boom continues

By | Published on Friday 6 September 2019


The US record industry’s revival is continuing at such a pace that the boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America managed to write a whole blog post about his organisation’s latest stats pack without even moaning about the copyright safe harbour once.

The closest you get to a YouTube dig is him commending the record industry’s past record of “standing up to big tech platforms that have avoided accountability to exploit artists and grossly underpay for music”.

In that RIAA stats pack it’s confirmed that total revenues generated by recorded music sales and services in the US in the first half of 2019 were up 18% to $5.4 billion.

Premium streaming is still behind the growth, of course, with more than 60 million paying subscribers of one kind or another in the market. Streaming at large now generates 80% of the US record industry’s income, with 9% coming from downloads, 9% from physical products, and a neat little 2% from sync deals.

These positive stats, writes RIAA boss Mitch Glazier, are “great news for the music business and for the US economy overall. Music contributes $143 billion to the nation’s GDP every year, supporting more than 157,000 music-related businesses and nearly two million jobs. A healthy music economy fuels a healthy American economy”.

He does then reference those past efforts by the record companies to enforce their rights in the digital market and the wins for the wider music community in last year’s Music Moderinzation Act. But Glazier’s blog post doesn’t include any call for further help from lawmakers to boost anti-piracy laws or reform the aforementioned safe harbour, as has been typical of official record industry postings for years now.

Instead he focuses on how labels are so fucking good at embracing new platforms and technologies and that – as a result of all that – the good times are back, and the labels are using all the new cash to invest in new music and new artists, who need a label partner to “help them make it in an increasingly complicated and high tech business”.

“This continued growth lets record companies do more than ever to discover, promote, and protect great artists”, Glazier reckons. “Worldwide, labels now spend nearly $6 billion a year to find talent, enable artists to record, cut through the noise, and be heard. Finding and developing new talent is the lifeblood of the business, with 20% of a major label’s roster of artists signed fresh each year”.

So look at that: Innovation! Investment! Success! Anyone else getting nostalgic for the years when it was all fucked? Not Glazier. “Let’s keep it going”, he concludes.