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Vinyl Eclipses Ad-Supported Streaming

According to report released last week by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and as reported by The Verge, vinyl music sales generated almost $60 million more than ad-supported streaming services during the first half of 2015 in the US.

The mid-year report reveals that vinyl album and EP sales generated $221.8 million in value from that period, a 52% increase year-on-year.

The crucial words here are ‘Ad supported’, meaning the likes of Spotify’s limited free tier, YouTube and Vevo. Such services also generated more revenue year on year in the first half of 2015, bringing in $162.7m, a 27% increase.

It is quite extraordinary that vinyl has eclipsed ad-supported streaming but, as with all of these positive vinyl revival figures, remember that it is still an incredibly niche format, representing 2% of the overall music revenues in the US last year.

The remainder of the report tells a familiar story: digital revenues up, flagging CD sales and streaming starting to displace digital downloads. That said, permanent downloads still made up 40% of revenues in the first six months of 2015 in the US. It will be interesting to see if this is still the case at the end of 2015, with the launch of Apple Music and what is an unarguable transition to streaming on a global scale.

The total value of digitally distributed formats was $2.3 billion in the period – up 6% compared to the first half of 2014, with digital accounting for 76% of the overall market.

RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said: “The data continues to reflect the story of a business undergoing an enormous transition. The product of music and the extraordinary roster of artists represented by today’s music labels remains in high demand… at the same time, intense demand and billions of streams does not always equal fair market rates or a fair playing field. Addressing that is an essential element of fulfilling the enormous promise of today’s digital marketplace”.

On a related note, it is well worth reading Music Ally’s round up of the industry’s three-month verdict of Apple Music.

Read the full mid-year report here.

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