The numbers are in on the RIAA’s 2021 Year-End Revenue Report and it’s clear that the U.S. music industry’s return to rude health is no longer in doubt. At a wholesale level, 2021 revenues were up 22% on last year:
And it’ll come as a surprise to no one that streaming continues to be the driving force behind this upward trend in revenue generation. Streaming service subscriptions and licensed playbacks netted 24% more revenue in 2021 than in 2020. They now comprise 85% of the total revenue pie:
Notice how physical formats bring in only 11% of revenue in the USA? Vinyl’s resurgence as a format might make for good Sunday magazine headlines but the format’s appeal remains niche, even during its 21st Century renaissance.
The biggest news for 2021 is as follows: for the first time since 1996, revenue driven by vinyl sales and CD sales are both up. After years of decline, revenue from CD sales increased by 21% to US$584 million. According to the RIAA, that’s the first increase since 2004. Drilling into the RIAA report’s tabulated numbers, we note that 31.6m CDs were sold in the USA in 2020. In 2021, that number jumped to 46.6m to remain higher than the 39.7m vinyl LPs (and EPs) sold in the same year, despite vinyl generating more revenue overall.
That’s interesting, no?
Further information: RIAA 2021 Revenue Report