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September 10, 2020 | CEO's Corner


Paid Streaming Subscription Growth Offsets Fall in Physical and Downloads, and Slowing Ad-Supported Streaming Revenues

Washington, D.C. (September 10, 2020) – The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today released its mid-year 2020 report showing growth in paid subscription streaming more than offsetting revenue declines in other areas of the U.S. recorded music market, and detailing ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the market for music.

Among the key findings, total first-half 2020 revenues from recorded music in the U.S. increased 5.6% to $5.7 billion. Paid streaming subscriptions continued to drive the growth as the number of paid subscriptions increased by 24% to more than 72 million on average, growing subscription streaming revenues for first-half 2020 by 14% versus first-half 2019. At the same time, with advertising markets slowing across the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, growth in ad-supported streaming revenues slowed dramatically. Physical sales, including vinyl albums and compact discs, were also affected by the pandemic and fell 23%.

RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said:

“These are historically difficult times: the live music sector is shut down; studio recording is limited; and millions of Americans are out of work across the broader economy. While we’re pleased that the years of hard work and resources we’ve invested in streaming are driving growth in paid subscriptions, today’s report demonstrates just how much work remains to achieve a sustainably healthy music ecosystem for both music creators and fans. We must continue working to help sustain live music and venues, support gig workers and session musicians, and ensure fair pay for music on all digital platforms. Despite all the challenges from the pandemic, one thing clearly hasn’t changed – fans still love music.”

Throughout 2020, RIAA and its members have worked for measures supporting those parts of the music community most deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the landmark CARES Act, the RESTART and SOS Acts (to keep local venues alive), and legislation to solve the “mixed earner” issue that limits the reach of unemployment assistance for independent artists and session performers.

The report can be found here.

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world, investing in great artists to help them reach their potential and connect to their fans. Nearly 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States is created, manufactured or distributed by RIAA members. 


K. Kim Atterbury