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U.S. music sales are better than they’ve been in decades

(Photo: Getty Images, John Keeble)

For years, it seemed like the internet would be the death of the music industry. The convenience of pirating was keeping people from buying albums, going to concerts, and picking up cool band shirts at Hot Topic, and all the big label executives could do was pace around their mansions and nervously sift through their dwindling piles of gold. Lately, though, the internet and music streaming have actually become so popular that the music industry is making more money that it has in almost 20 years. Like the old adage says: What doesn’t kill you will make you a lot of money if you just quit complaining and be patient.

This news comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which says music sales in the U.S. were up 11.4 percent in 2016, bringing in $7.65 billion in revenue. That makes it the first time since 1998 that the music industry enjoyed double-digit growth, and though total revenue was $13.7 billion that year, this still indicates that things are starting to brighten up. The THR story goes on to say that streaming revenue has gone up a whopping 68.6 percent from 2015, accounting for almost $4 billion of that total industry-wide revenue. In fact, streaming accounts for more money than downloads, CDs, and vinyl sales combined.


Interestingly, while free streaming on Spotify and YouTube has increased, the average amount of money that artists get from streaming royalties has also increased by a very small amount. The average per-stream royalty rate in 2014 was $0.00666, in 2015 it was $0.00517, and last year it was an “impressive” $0.0072. Basically, everybody’s making a little bit more money than they used to.

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