Why Streaming Music Is Here to Stay

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Makes Announcement
Daniel Ek, chief executive officer of Spotify Ltd., speaks at a news conference in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. Spotify Ltd., the music-streaming service, will open its site to software developers to attract new users with features such as ticket sales and song lyrics. Photographer: Louis Lanzano/ Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Move over, iTunes. For the first time ever, revenue from streaming music is beating out music download sales online.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported Tuesday that 2015 was a breakout year for streaming music services, as streaming sales brushed ahead to claim 34.3% of music revenue, just inching out digital downloads (34%). It’s the first year of growth for the music industry since 2011, Bloomberg reports.

“The music industry is now a digital business, deriving more than 70% of its revenues from a wide array of digital platforms and formats,” RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman wrote in a blog post.

Physical music like records and CDs still make up the bulk of the rest of the industry, accounting for 28.8% of U.S. music revenue.

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Streaming music, now a $2-billion-plus industry, grew the music business 1% overall last year, with paid subscription services like Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music bringing in over $1.2 million in revenue. Ad-supported streaming, which includes sites like YouTube, was less profitable, bringing in $385 million.

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The announcement comes just as competition in the subscription music service business heats up.

Streaming giant Spotify announced earlier this week that the company has 30 million subscribers, despite hesitation from artists like Adele and Kanye West, who’ve blocked their newest albums from the subscription service. Meanwhile, the newer Apple Music, which launched in June, already has 11 million subscribers.

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