As you can see by looking at our weekly Metal by Numbers columns, record sales aren’t what they used to be. Thankfully, metal is still selling, and with a chart like last week’s, its’ still selling well. Hell, to some, physical media is dead, and we’re living entirely in a streaming economy now. And while numbers continue to increase for streaming, particularly with hip-hop and R&B, we’re still a long ways away from most artists being able to make ends meet by getting paid from streaming services. The RIAA issued a mid-year report last week and it found that despite an increase in revenue from ad-supported streaming services (YouTube, Spotify’s free version, etc), vinyl sales made almost $60 million more in the first half of the year. Vinyl sales brought in $221.8 million from January to June, an impressive 52% increase year-over-year. Ad-supported streaming brought in $162.7 million in revenue, or 27% year-over-year.
Interestingly enough, digital downloads are still bringing in more money than anything else, or about 40% of all revenues in the first half of 2015. Don’t expect to see things stay that way, though. With Apple Music’s launch right at the end of the period and more people getting used to streaming, it will likely have a healthy increase. But vinyl’s continued increase in sales (as well as digital downloads still selling more than anything else) seems to to indicate that there are still people that want to own their music, even if it’s not in physical form. Here’s what RIAA Chairman/CEO Cary Sherman says about the report:
“The data continues to reflect the story of a business undergoing an enormous transition. There are many positive signs: continuing the trend from 2014, wholesale revenues for the first half of 2015 increased. And revenues from streaming music services continue to grow at a healthy double digit rate. The product of music and the extraordinary roster of artists represented by today’s music labels remains in high demand. That is the bedrock of a successful future.
“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.”
It also suggests that there’s just not as much money in streaming yet. Sure, it’ll increase as more people stream, but there’s more to be made by selling vinyl, and all the complaints from artists about not getting compensated for streams appears to be borne out by the RIAA’s study.