Washington, DC (October 13, 2021)—The RIAA has released its 2021 Mid-Year Music Industry Revenue Report, which reports that recorded music revenues in the U.S. grew 27% in the first half of 2021 versus 2020, from $5.6 to $7.1 billion at retail value.
The effects of Covid-19 continued to affect the industry, however. Year-over-year comparisons are significantly impacted by store closures, tour cancellations and other disruptions from both 2020 and 2021.
The report notes that paid subscriptions continued to be the strongest contributor to growth, comprising nearly two-thirds of total revenue, averaging more than 80 million paid subscriptions for the first time. The category includes paid subscription services, ad-supported services, digital and customized radio, and licenses for music on Facebook and digital fitness apps. Streaming, the dominant form of music consumption, accounted for 84% — roughly the same as 1H 2020 — of the industry’s half-year total revenue of $5.9 billion.
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Mitch Glazier, chairman and CEO, RIAA, in a Medium post accompanying the report, notes that the data “shows just how deeply Americans continue to value and engage with recorded music — listening to more than 840 billion on-demand streams in the first half of the year, a record for any six-month period in history and one with substantial room for continued groth both on audio streaming and on audiovisual platforms like TikTok and Twitch.”
Glazier also writes, “The data also shows continued surging interest in vinyl — rebounding from the challenges and disruptions of 2020 to a new post-Napster half-year high of $467 million.” Indeed, vinyl album sales outpaced CD revenue for the second consecutive year, growing a remarkable 94% in 1H 2021 to account for two-thirds of physical format revenues. CD revenues increased 44% to $205 million, accounting for 30% of physical revenues, but still remain 19% lower than they were in 1H 2019.
As the report notes, the comparison versus 2020 includes a period in which retail stores were significantly impacted by Covid-19. Record Store Day 2020 was also delayed and did not occur in the spring, as it did in 2021.
According to the RIAA mid-year report, permanent downloads declined both in absolute dollars as well as share of total revenue. In 1H 2021, revenues from digital downloads fell 6% by value to $319 million, accounting for 5% of total revenues. Revenues from digitally downloaded tracks and albums were down 12% and 4% respectively from the same period the previous year.