Music Industry Hits All-Time Recording Revenue High: $8.4 Billion in First Half of 2023

While the rise of streaming has been reason for concern in the music industry, the Recording Industry Association of America released its Mid-Year Revenue Report showing a ninth straight year of growth. It also set an all-time high with $8.4 billion in revenue in the first half of the year.

The RIAA points to paid streaming subscriptions as the biggest contributor to the all-time high, making up 78% of streaming revenues. The number of people with paid music subscriptions has more than doubled in the past five years. That $8.4 billion figure compares with $7.6 billion in the first half of last year and $7.1 billion the year before that.

Following the crash of physical media music sales, recorded music has been on the way back up in what the RIAA described as a “decade of transformation.” Streaming now makes up 84% of all recorded music revenue, followed by physical media with 11% and digital downloads accounting for just 3%, a number which continues to fall.

But that’s the best showing for physical media since 2013. Physical media sales brought in $882 million, up 5% over the previous year. Vinyl continues to be the dominant physical media in its modern second life, making up 72% of physical music sales and bringing in $632 million in the first half of the year.

These stats “[reflect] the creative human genius and hard work of all the artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, and services who make the music happen,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said, “and meet fans and audiences where they are.”

Streaming revenue was up 10.3% this year to $7 billion in the first half of the year, with paid subscription revenues growing faster than 11% — though that was partially due to price increases, with the number of accounts growing just 6%. Items included in the streaming category include paid services, ad-supported services, digital and customized radio (such as SiriusXM and internet radio) and music licenses on social media and fitness apps.

On-demand revenue from ad-supported services only went up 1% after stalling out in 2020 and seeing a rebound in 2021 and 2022.

This chart shows U.S. Recorded Music Revenues for the 1st half of 2021, 2022, and 2023. Wholesale sales grew from $4.6 billion in 2021 to $4.9 billion in 2022 and $5.3 billion in 2023. Retail figures grew from $7.1 billion in 2021 to $7.6 billion in 2022 and $8.4 billion in 2023.
Recorded music sales figures from the RIAA

We’re sure that Taylor Swift can take a portion of the credit given her continuing mega-popularity and the fact that her “Eras” tour gave fans a reason to spend extra time in her back catalog. But her two 2023 album releases can’t be credited with too much of these numbers — “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version” came out at the start of the second half of the year in July, while “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” isn’t scheduled for release until next month.

Both Swift and fellow superstar Beyoncé appear to be having their biggest impact in live rather than recorded music at the moment, though we know fans eagerly await more from both artists to come.

You can see the RIAA’s most up-to-date numbers in its industry revenue reports and statistics data in its online database.

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