Online Music Streaming Was More Profitable Than CD Sales in 2014
For the first time, digital music streaming has surpassed physical CD sales in terms of profitability. According to the RIAA and Business Insider, 2014 saw CD sales slide 12.7% to $1.85 billion, while streaming sites like Spotify, Rdio and recent Apple acquisition Beats Music raked in $1.87 billion, up 3.2% from 2013. The entire industry pulled in just under $7 billion, with streaming and CD sales second and third, respectively, behind digital sales as the most profitable portions thereof. Downloads, however, fell 8.5% when compared to 2013, meaning that streaming was the only one of the three most profitable music mediums to see growth last year. (To qualify: Vinyl sales pulled in about $350 million, meaning that physical products as a whole likely edged out the streaming services.) Case studies the world over show this to be one of the reasons for the decline in piracy; last year, just 4% of Norwegians under 30 years old said that they download music illegally, compared with 80% just five years ago.
Last month, Drake set the single-day album streaming record on Spotify with his surprise record, If You're Reading This It's Too Late. However, that mark has already been shattered by Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, which was streamed nearly 10 million times on consecutive days. The latter album received an experimental rollout for which it was briefly made available on iTunes, then removed with no explanation. That sent fans scrambling to stream the record, presumably instead of scouring for bootleg copies.