In 2014, for the first time ever, music streaming services generated more revenue than CDs in the United States. Having been the most important source of income for the music industry since the early 1990s, the CD was dethroned by digital downloads as recently as 2012, the same year download revenues hit their peak.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, CD sales amounted to $1.86 billion last year while streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora or iTunes Radio contributed $1.87 billion to the music industry’s total of almost $7 billion. Revenue from permanent downloads amounted to $2.58 billion, continuing the downward trend as consumers turn to streaming services instead. Within three years, the number of paid streaming subscribers more than tripled from 1.8 million to 7.7 million.
The recorded music industry in the U.S. now generates roughly two thirds of its revenue from digital sources, indicating how drastically the music market has changed since the beginning of the 21st century.