CDs and vinyl are now MORE popular than digital downloads thanks to the rise in popularity of subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music
CDs and vinyls are outselling digital downloads for the first time since 2011 thanks to streaming services, industry figures reveal.
Apps like Spotify and Apple Music have seen an astronomical rise in popularity in recent years and this has all but destroyed the digital download market.
As more people choose to stream music rather than own it, sales of physical media are now falling at a slower rate than their digital counterparts.
This has been driven, in part, by a resurgence in vinyl sales among audiophiles, who prize the format’s unique sound.
Findings from the 2017 report by The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) show that digital downloads revenue fell to $1.3 billion (£920 million) last year.
Physical media, such as CDs and vinyls, also fell in total value, but only declined to $1.5 billion (£1.06 billion).
For the first time since 2011, when digital downloads took off, physical media sales top that of downloads via online stores like iTunes and Amazon.
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The combined worth of both physical media and downloads pales alongside the money produced by streaming, however.
Platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Tidal account for the majority of all income.
In the US, the music industry is now worth an approximate $8.7 billion (£6.1 billion) and, of this vast wealth, 65 per cent of it comes from streaming.
Streaming now brings in around $5.7 billion (£4 billion) to the US industry every year, and a vast chunk of this comes from paid subscriptions.
These premium memberships, to sites such as Spotify, saw an increase of more than 50 per cent in 2017.
Ad-based subscriptions for those reluctant to pay for a premium service also increased by 35 per cent.
In 2016, the music industry made more than half of its revenue from streaming.
Although this was the first time streaming had accounted for more than 50 per cent of total revenue, the growth continued into 2017.
Last year, nearly two-thirds of all revenue — over $5.7 billion (£4 billion) — came from streaming, an increase of 43 per cent.
Thanks to the spread of dedicated software, the relatively small amount of income from physical media and digital sales is more than offset by streaming, leading to steady growth.
Figures released in January revealed that more than four million vinyls were sold last year in the UK, purchased at a quicker rate than in 1991 and the US has seen a similar revival of fortunes for the retro format.
Some experts believe that these trends will continue, and that the digital download will soon become obsolete.
The future seems to lie in streaming, and a sub-section of streaming has emerged as a popular favourite.
Dubbed ‘Limited tier paid subscriptions’, they are basically subscription streaming services with some sort of major constraint.
Amazon, for instance, sells an unlimited music subscription that only works on a single Echo for far cheaper than a full subscription.
This sector accounted for 14 per cent of the subscription market in 2017 and is rapidly growing.
The recent popularity of smart speakers with integrated AI capabilities, such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Apple HomePod, has likely fuelled the growth of streaming.