Music industry continues to grow as CDs and Vinyl outperform digital downloads

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) annual end-of-year report notes that recorded-music revenues in 2018 were up 12 percent to their highest levels in ten years—$9.8 billion. But digital downloads, which includes those on iTunes, made up just 11 percent of this revenue. CDs and vinyl, meanwhile, accounted for 12 percent.

Unsurprisingly, most of last year’s revenue—75 percent of it—came from streaming music services such as Spotify and Apple Music, which saw total subscription revenues increase 32 percent to $5.4 billion. Included in that figure is “limited tier” subscriptions such as Pandora Plus and Amazon Prime, which were up 26 percent to $747.1 million. Ad-based free services such as YouTube were also up, by 15 percent to $759 million.

Back in 2015, digital downloads and streaming had an equal share of around 34 percent of the market, but the last four years have seen streaming become most people’s method choice for enjoying their favorite tracks.

Digital download sales fell 26 percent to $1.04 billion, while physical format revenue was down 23 percent to $1.15 billion. But despite the decrease in physical sales, it seems more people are falling back in love with vinyl; record sales were up 7.9 percent to $419.2 million.

Back in 2017, it was reported that Sony was returning to the Vinyl printing business after an almost 30-year absence.

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
The old records continue to make a strong com back. There is a disk pressing company in Nashville that continues to grow and still has trouble keeping up. People have learned that elimination of those occasional pops and clicks also took a great deal of range and clarity with it. Certainly not for everyone but there is a loyal following that wants to hear the entire range of their music.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Underdog

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
Streaming is usually at the lowest fidelity levels. I'm too picky to listen to songs that sound like they were recorded in a tin hut because the highs and lows have been cut off to minimize the file size.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Evernessince

mattsie

TS Enthusiast
This article is exactly what I call misinterpreted information.

Only real information that you can gather from here is that streaming is king.

Digital downloads would actually increase If you actually owned what you paid for.
 

EClyde

TS Evangelist
Still have all my albums. The only thing they have over digital is the album cover. I don't miss all the time it takes to properly care for vinyl. AND the setup needed is much to costly for any perceived benefit. Everyone is being taken to the cleaners yet again......but they like it, they are cool. I almost forgot...ever move 300 albums?
 
Last edited:

EClyde

TS Evangelist
Streaming is usually at the lowest fidelity levels. I'm too picky to listen to songs that sound like they were recorded in a tin hut because the highs and lows have been cut off to minimize the file size.
Are you too picky so as not to take a picture because you don't have a $1000 camera?
 
  • Like
Reactions: SalaSSin

Cubi Dorf

TS Booster
I needing really good hardwares to hear difference between stream service and cd. Most people don’t have. If you like less popular artist then you need buy cd to support . They won’t make sufficient monies from streaming to continue new musics.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Godel

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
Streaming is usually at the lowest fidelity levels. I'm too picky to listen to songs that sound like they were recorded in a tin hut because the highs and lows have been cut off to minimize the file size.
Are you too picky so as not to take a picture because you don't have a $1000 camera?
I played in a band for years and was a studio musician for 3. Pretty sure I know the difference between low-fidelity vs. high-fidelity playback. If I wanted my music to sound like it came out of a pocket AM radio, I wouldn't care. But if I'm paying for it, and taking the time to build a music catalog, so I want it to sound as close to the actual recording as possible.

Apparently, that's some sort of crime around here.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
The old records continue to make a strong com back. There is a disk pressing company in Nashville that continues to grow and still has trouble keeping up. People have learned that elimination of those occasional pops and clicks also took a great deal of range and clarity with it. Certainly not for everyone but there is a loyal following that wants to hear the entire range of their music.
We have a company here in Springfield, Mo, National Audio, that a few years ago bought a bunch of magnetic tape machines from various vendors who stopped. They rehab'd them, and produce a TON of blank & recorded cassette tapes, and I remember last fall, they said they were going to start producing reel to reel tape. It's one of my customers and I remember they showed me a bit of it. Pretty cool to start off with a clear plastic strip, several inches wide, it gets coated, then sliced. Old tech lives again. ;)
Just don't bring back vacuum tubes (valves). I burned my fingers too many times to remember, working in a television repair shop in the late 70's as a college kid.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
Streaming is usually at the lowest fidelity levels. I'm too picky to listen to songs that sound like they were recorded in a tin hut because the highs and lows have been cut off to minimize the file size.
Yeah, but I'm almost 60, and I don't really have the high frequency hearing that I did in the 70's. LOL.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
We have a company here in Springfield, Mo, National Audio, that a few years ago bought a bunch of magnetic tape machines from various vendors who stopped. They rehab'd them, and produce a TON of blank & recorded cassette tapes, and I remember last fall, they said they were going to start producing reel to reel tape. It's one of my customers and I remember they showed me a bit of it. Pretty cool to start off with a clear plastic strip, several inches wide, it gets coated, then sliced. Old tech lives again. ;)
Just don't bring back vacuum tubes (valves). I burned my fingers too many times to remember, working in a television repair shop in the late 70's as a college kid.
The last US plant that produced vacuum tubes was in Kentucky and if memory serves me, I think it was bought out by Western Electric then closed about 2 years after that. I know that there is one plant in Alabama that has restarted but I don't know what their prime market is. To date, the only truly hardened defense against EMP are tubes, in fact it wasn't until the late 90's that Cheyenne Mountain eliminated the last of it's tube sets, although there is a rumor they didn't eliminate them, but put them into cold storage for a possible future need (post atomic conflict). I had one that was about the size of a football that I donated to a local university, and man that thing weighted a ton!
 
  • Like
Reactions: p51d007
Quite misleading numbers and claims.

Vinyl versions of albums cost about 3x of digital version price (quite OVERPRICED).

So if revenue is virtually the same, physical is "under-performing" at about 1:3 in "album sales" actually
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
<...>Old tech lives again. ;)
Just don't bring back vacuum tubes (valves). I burned my fingers too many times to remember, working in a television repair shop in the late 70's as a college kid.
I know someone who is part and partner in a startup that is producing vacuum tubes. ;) There is still a big demand for them. I bet @captaincranky will be glad to supply us with his opinion (if not a scientific dissertation on vacuum tubes:laughing:), too!
 

EClyde

TS Evangelist
I played in a band for years and was a studio musician for 3. Pretty sure I know the difference between low-fidelity vs. high-fidelity playback. If I wanted my music to sound like it came out of a pocket AM radio, I wouldn't care. But if I'm paying for it, and taking the time to build a music catalog, so I want it to sound as close to the actual recording as possible.

Apparently, that's some sort of crime around here.
I played the radio for years. Does that mean I don't know the difference between lo fi and hi fi? It means that on every occasion that I listen to moosic it does not have to be audiowrench quality. I meant audiophile, sorry. You guys slay me
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
The old records continue to make a strong com back. There is a disk pressing company in Nashville that continues to grow and still has trouble keeping up. People have learned that elimination of those occasional pops and clicks also took a great deal of range and clarity with it. Certainly not for everyone but there is a loyal following that wants to hear the entire range of their music.
It needs to be pointed out that going from Records to digital music players has NOTHING to do with the dynamic range of music. What you are describing can be attributed to the loudness war. Otherwise records do not produce superior quality music then digital mediums. In the end, the quality of either will depend on the recording quality. An MP3 with heavy compression will obviously loose range and quality.

Streaming is usually at the lowest fidelity levels. I'm too picky to listen to songs that sound like they were recorded in a tin hut because the highs and lows have been cut off to minimize the file size.
Which is odd given that audio doesn't take much to stream anyways.

I needing really good hardwares to hear difference between stream service and cd. Most people don’t have. If you like less popular artist then you need buy cd to support . They won’t make sufficient monies from streaming to continue new musics.
Given that CD quality is 16-bit 44100 Hz and likely a lossy format, it's not a huge jump over low-quality recordings to begin with so it's understandable that you wouldn't see much of a difference. If the artist doesn't put time to make a good CD recording it's not going to sound good.

I've been hoping that this vinyl boom encourages music to increase dynamic range but I've not seen that. You've got the classics and then you've got mono-volume pop music. Makes the choice all the easier.
 

Dimitrios

TS Guru
Streaming is usually at the lowest fidelity levels. I'm too picky to listen to songs that sound like they were recorded in a tin hut because the highs and lows have been cut off to minimize the file size.
The human ear can't tell the difference from 30 FPS and 60FPS.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ZackL04

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
I know someone who is part and partner in a startup that is producing vacuum tubes. ;) There is still a big demand for them. I bet @captaincranky will be glad to supply us with his opinion (if not a scientific dissertation on vacuum tubes:laughing:), too!
You know, there's so much opinion, misinformation, misconceptions, and flat out ignorance of the principles of audio reproduction already in this thread, I'm afraid if I reply to correct things, I'll be typing until next Tuesday.
 
Last edited:

mattsie

TS Enthusiast
What do you mean? How are the downloads not owned? I mean, as opposed to, say, a CD?
They mentioned (iTunes digital downloads) as some others strategy is that after death, your iTunes account is closed thus making all your purchased music collection not accessible to your relatives. So you only lease it, until our, hopefully, not so bitter demise.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
They mentioned (iTunes digital downloads) as some others strategy is that after death, your iTunes account is closed thus making all your purchased music collection not accessible to your relatives. So you only lease it, until our, hopefully, not so bitter demise.
Yeah, if you're dumb enough to buy music from Apple, that might be a distinct possibility. However, Amazon's (and I am loathe to praise Amazon in any respect), MP3s are not infected with DRM. You can copy and transfer them freely, even burn them to optical media. In many cases, you even get a free digital copy of many physical CDs, when you purchase them directly from Amazon itself.. (Not "Amazon Marketplace")

If you're referring to ripping from an iTunes or Amazon stream, as opposed to buying individual Mp3 files, I never indulge in the practice, so I can't comment directly on that aspect of obtaining files.

BTW, I'm pretty sure all demises have somewhat of a bitter aspect to them, even if only in the 1st person. :rolleyes:

@wiyosaya See what I mean?
 
Last edited: