Revenue from music streaming passes digital downloads

One vision of the future includes a world where no one owns anything, from cars (replaced by Uber) to houses (replaced by Airbnb). While those may be a far way off, we did take a step in that direction last year: revenues from music streaming services passed those from digital downloads.

The Recording Industry Association of America is out with last year’s revenue numbers for the music industry, and they show a pretty big jump for streaming music. With $2.4 billion in revenue, streaming music made up 34.3 percent of all music revenue, passing digital downloads (34 percent of revenue) for the top spot.

Streaming revenues from subscriptions, ad-supported options and other forms of streaming grew by 29 percent during that period. With new players like Apple Music and Tidal taking flight this year and the continued popularity of Spotify and YouTube, streaming music platforms have reached a point of maturity.

“Paid subscription services were the biggest — and fastest growing — portion of the streaming market,” RIAA senior vice president Joshua Friedlander said in a statement. “The launch of new services like TIDAL and Apple Music made this one of the most watched and talked about spaces in the industry.”

Paid subscriptions were up 40 percent in 2015, but ad-supported options grew 31 percent as well. Revenue from services like Pandora, SiriusXM and other internet radio providers saw just 4 percent growth though.

As smartphones proliferate the market, users now have a persistent connection to streaming services almost anywhere. And with many phones quickly filling up with apps and photos, storing music can become a logistical problem. Programs like T-Mobile’s Music Freedom offer users even more flexibility in streaming music, letting users listen to Spotify and other services without costing data.