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Streaming Grew, CDs & Digital Downloads Fell In 2022

Vinyl also outsold CDs for the first time since 1987.

Photo by Mick Haupt

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) published their statistics for 2022 and the results are largely unsurprising. Streaming continued to grow at a massive rate, vinyl is still super popular, and CDs and digital downloads have continued to fall.

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Streaming grew 7% from 2021 to a record high $13.3 billion in revenue. That number breaks down to $10.2 billion from paid subscription services, $1.8 billion from from advertising supported on-demand services like YouTube and the ad-supported version of Spotify, $1.2 billion from digital and customized radio music services, and $92 million to paid subscriptions to on-demand music services.

Digital downloads fell off pretty hard in 2022, dropping 20% from 2021 to $495 million. This breaks down to $242 million in album sales and $214 million in single sales. To put it into perspective, digital downloads accounted for 43% of of U.S. recorded music revenues in 2012 – now they're accounting for 3%.

Physical products accounts for $1.7 billion and were up 4% over 2021. Vinyl had its 16th consecutive year of growth and grew 17% from 2021 to $1.2 billion, while CDs fell 18% to $483 million in 2022. 2022 also marks the first time vinyl albums outsold CDs in units since 1987, with vinyl having sold 41 million units and CDs coming in at 33 million. The RIAA didn't mention cassette sales, but there's a tiny little sliver on one of graph for physical mediums labeled "other." So I'd imagine cassettes are floating around in there.

Check out the report here. It'll be interesting to see in the future if digital downloads can make any sort of comeback now that Bandcamp is continuing to grow. Though really, all it'll take is for Apple or Amazon to pull the plug on their digital storefronts and the whole thing probably tanks (at least on the year end reports).

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As for streaming continuing to grow, great? We know that Spotify isn't exactly kind to its artists in terms of pay (and even offered lower rates for higher exposure), so that number continuing to grow doesn't really mean much to the average artist.

And then finally there's vinyl. All I can say is that I'm sure there will be more records broken this year, just like there have every year. Well, as long as major artists aren't snatching up all the available production slots, only to have a significant number of their records end up at Goodwill.

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