Photograph by Brian Ach — Getty Images
March 19, 2015

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By Sabrina Toppa @sabrinatoppa

Sales of digital music formats hit $4.51 billion in 2014 — a record level, says Wednesday’s report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Streaming services gained ground in particular, notching up $1.87 billion overall in 2014 — an increase in value of one-third from 2013 — and overtaking CDs for the first time. Rhapsody, Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM were the leaders in the streaming segment. Paid subscriptions earned a total of $7.7 million in 2014.

Overall, RIAA reported a retail revenue value of $6.97 billion last year. The figure is slightly down from the previous year and points to a flat revenue picture for the industry, which has long worried about revenue decline from digital music piracy and the obsolescence of physical formats like CDs. Even download sales appear to have peaked in 2012.

The only segment of the market other than streaming to show real growth was vinyl LPs, sales of which rose 49% to $315 million. As such, they accounted for over 10% of the total physical market for the first time since 1987. Vinyl LPs were 14% of the physical market, and 4.5% of the total market at estimated retail value.

Together, downloads and audio-streaming services now account for 64% of the total market by value. Permanent downloads remain the largest source of revenue at 37%.



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