US online music streaming sales beat CDs for the first time

20/03/2015

Sales generated by online streaming exceeded CD sales in the US for the first time ever in 2014, according to new data.

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The figures, from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),indicate that US music industry shrank 0.5% in 2014 as growth in streaming services like Spotify failed to counter declining consumer spending on albums and songs.

The RIAA revealed that music streaming accounted for $1.87 billion last year, compared to $1.85 billion of CD sales.

The popularity of services like Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody and YouTube saw streaming revenue increase by 29 per cent in 2014, while CD revenue fell by 12.7 per cent.

Spotify is the largest subscription service. In May, Apple. agreed to pay $3 billion to buy headphones and streaming-music service Beats in the company’s biggest-ever purchase.

The number of paid streaming subscriptions -- 7.7 million - - indicates that the majority of Spotify’s subscribers reside outside the U.S. Spotify said in January it has more than 15 million subscribers.

The rise of online music services has rocked the global music industry. Subscription services have hit physical sales hard, meaning that only three artists had an album go platinum in 2014: Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and country star Jason Aldean.

In total, music sales in the US fell by 0.5 per cent to $6.97 billion, with Apple’s iTunes still making up the largest proportion of sales with $2.58 billion.

Free music streaming sites like YouTube showed significant growth of 34 per cent, but still only received $295 million in revenue. By contrast, paid subscription services like Spotify took $799 million.

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