Music

U.S. Recorded Music Revenue Up 8% in 2023 as Streaming Growth Remains Steady: RIAA

Recorded music revenue in the United States grew 7.7% in 2023 over the prior year, reaching a high-water mark of $17.1 billion at retail, according to the RIAA. Within that headline number, $14.4 billion — or 84% — was driven by streaming, a figure that was also up 8% over 2022.

It’s the eighth straight year of revenue growth for the U.S. business, and the rounded 8% growth over last year’s $15.9 billion represents an uptick from 2022, when the business grew 6.1% over the prior year. And while the headline figure marks the third straight year that the business has set a record for revenue — previously set in 1999, when revenue hit $14.6 billion prior to Napster taking hold — when adjusted for inflation, it still falls far below that 1999 figure, which would be $26.9 billion at current rates.

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Still, the U.S. business has been growing steadily over the past several years, and streaming has settled into being a fairly consistent piece of the revenue pie: This marks the fourth straight year that overall streaming accounted for between 83% and 84% of revenue, showing that streaming and the overall revenue picture are growing in lockstep. Within the streaming category, paid subscription streaming accounted for $11.2 billion, or 78% of all streaming revenue, up 9% over the $10.2 billion it accounted for last year; and the average number of full-tier U.S. subscriptions grew 5.7% to 96.8 million, up from 91.6 million last year.

However, limited-tier subscription revenue — the bucket into which Amazon Prime, Pandora Plus, fitness services and other paid subscriptions that don’t include access to full, on-demand catalogs falls — dropped 4% to $1.0 billion. Meanwhile, ad-supported streaming service revenue grew 2%, to $1.9 billion, up from $1.8 billion in 2022; and digital and customized radio revenue, which includes services like SiriusXM and SoundExchange distributions, picked up 8% year over year, to $1.3 billion. Synch revenue grew by a similar rate, up 7.4% to $411 million.

In terms of sales, digital downloads continued their slide, with revenue down 12.2% year-over-year to $434.1 million, now representing just 3% of the overall industry. On the flipside, physical sales once again surged, up 10.5% to $1.91 billion (from $1.73 billion last year). That was largely driven by vinyl sales growth, which was up 10.3% year over year to $1.35 billion in revenue — an increase from $1.22 billion in 2022, as units jumped to 43.2 million from 40.5 million. CD sales revenue also grew by double-digit percentages, increasing 11.3% to $537.1 million from a $482.6 million mark in 2022, even as the number of CDs sold fell. The format saw 37 million sales in 2023, down from 37.7 million the year prior, suggesting a rise in average price per unit year over year.

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Overall, the percentage breakdown between digital revenue and physical revenue — 89% to 11% — remained essentially the same as it has since 2018, only fluctuating 1% one way or the other in the intervening years. At wholesale, overall revenue grew by 7%, up to $11 billion from last year’s $10.3 billion, marking the second straight year that metric crossed the $10 billion plateau.

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