Music is an important part of everyday life. It not only accompanies our daily life through soundtracks in TV shows or music in advertisements, but for many it is an important part of entertainment. The consumption of the audio medium has steadily increased since 2014, reaching a global recorded music revenue of 28.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2021.
While a handful of countries can argue about the global influence of their country’s music scene, there is no denying that the U.S. market is the largest in terms of consumption and revenue generation. Over time, the most popular methods of music consumption have changed, but the industry has proven to be very adaptable to these changing trends and technologies. While both physical and digital album sales have fallen drastically throughout the years, this has been largely offset by the expanding reach and popularity of music streaming in the United States.
With the decrease in the physical sales of albums, old favorites have continued to top the all-time top selling album charts in the United States. Counting 38 million sales, the Eagles’ “The Greatest Hits 1971-1975” remains top the list. While these album sales records are unlikely to ever be broken due to the move towards streaming, the country’s most popular contemporary songs routinely get hundreds of millions of audio streams per year, a feat that would have been impossible in the days before streaming. “Levitating” by Dua Lipa is a great example, with the song accumulating a massive 804.7 million audio streams in the U.S. in 2021 alone. Despite the development towards digital music consumption, vinyl sales have slightly recovered over the years, with the format becoming popular again among younger generations. In 2021, Adele’s album “30” sold most vinyl albums, followed by Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift.
Streaming has become the number one format for music consumption
Another key facet of the music industry is the strength of major publishing companies both in the U.S. and around the world. As of 2020, three companies (Warner Chappell, Universal, and Sony/ATV) accounted for more than half of the world’s music publishing revenue. Sony alone reported over 7 billion dollars in annual sales and operating revenue from its music segment, and the company’s influence extends far beyond revenue numbers. While publishing companies and record companies have gained influence over the music industry, streaming services such as Spotify, Apple and Amazon Music, or Deezer have also become increasingly important. In 2022, Spotify had a market share of 35 percent, followed by Youtube music at 18 percent. The importance of streaming services is reflected in the number of weekly streams of single songs. For example, in the second week of May in 2022 the song “First Class” by Jack Harlow was streamed an astonishing 11.92 million times.
Music is such a crucial part of the everyday lives of people both in the U.S. and around the world that the future of the industry is never really in question. Although they have changed the industry dramatically, streaming apps like Spotify only help to further the reach of music around the country and give people the opportunity and ability to find bands and even genres that they would have never found otherwise.
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