RIAA Tolls Death Knell for Downloads

RIAA Tolls Death Knell for Downloads
Revenues from music streaming services and from physical media like CDs and vinyl now exceed music downloads.

(CCM) — The writing appears to be on the wall for iTunes and other digital music download services after a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) report revealed that revenues are in freefall.

Total revenues from digital downloads plummeted by a quarter in 2017 to just $1.3 billion, according to the 2017 RIAA Revenue Statistics, published yesterday. That means that 2017 was the third consecutive year that digital downloads reported double-digit declines.

Sales of vinyl and CDs fell by a mere 4% to $1.5 billion, meaning that they outsold digital downloads for the first time since 2011, when downloads first overtook physical music sales.

But both of these revenue streams pale into relative insignificance when compared to the revenues made by music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Revenues from streaming exploded by more than 50% to $5.7 billion last year, the report found, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the music industry's revenue.

Overall, music industry revenues were up for the second year in a row, and are now at the highest level since 2008, according to the RIAA's report.

Apple abandoned its iTunes LP format in early March, and some commentators believe that the move is a precursor to shuttering its iTunes digital download service and focusing its efforts on Apple Music.

Image: © iStock