In 2015, Vinyl Earned More Than YouTube Music, VEVO, SoundCloud, and Free Spotify COMBINED

Streaming gets you exposure. Vinyl makes you money. Any questions?

According to US-based revenue data released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Tuesday, vinyl revenues trumped the combined earnings of YouTube music videos, VEVO, free Spotify, SoundCloud, and every other free streaming music service combined, by a healthy margin.  In total, the ad-supported, free on-demand streaming channels contributed revenues of $385.1 million, a 30.6% jump over 2014 revenues.

Vinyl LPs, EPs, and singles, by comparison, sold a combined $422.3 million, which is 9.6 percent more.

Of that total, LPs (full, long-playing records) and slightly-shorter EPs contributed $416.2 million, or roughly 98.6 percent of that total.  Singles, a niche decoration, remains a small part of the vinyl resurgence (for now).

Overall, LP, EP, and 45 sales grew more than 32% in 2015 over the previous year.

The glaring statistic shows vinyl’s superior revenue power, especially for such a tiny category (for now).  Last year witnessed unprecedented surges in streaming, with free streaming absolutely exploding.  Indeed, Spotify is rumored to have passed 100 million total users, while YouTube’s music platform is bigger than ever before in history.   But that surge carries a cost: according to the figures, ad-supported, free streaming is a weak revenue-generator, and pound-for-pound, vinyl carries immensely more weight.

Paid streaming, on the other hand, packs a more serious punch.  According to the RIAA statistics, there were an average of 10.8 million paying subscribers to streaming services in 2015.  But that produced $1.22 billion in revenue, a major contributor to overall streaming revenues of $2.4 billion.

The rest is coming largely from Pandora, Sirius XM, iHeartRadio, and a collection of online radio platforms, a group that collectively contributed $802.6 million.  Overall, ‘non-interactive’ digital radio services grew a modest 3.8 percent in 2015 suggesting a US-based plateau.

Vinyl appears far from flattening, though upcoming advancements in high definition vinyl could spark a second growth spurt.

18 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Vinyl is also very expensive to make, so a pure revenue number is kinda misleading

  2. Hans

    You could also say that FREE streaming has generated almost as much revenues as expensive vinyl…

    • Me

      Very good point. Also, I’m curious what the stats would look like when you take manufacturing expenses into consideration.

    • Vail, CO

      I think the point is that free streaming royalties are abysmal, so even tiny vinyl is beating it.

      • Paul Resnikoff

        I’d agree, you may be missing the point here! Free streaming accounts for billions of plays monthly, it’s absolutely surging and quite possibly represents the largest method for consuming music (though that’s a research question).

        So, amazing that its revenues can’t even match that of vinyl. THAT’S the point of this article.

        • Peter

          it says in the article that paid streaming is making $1.22 billion and mentions nothing about paid downloads – would def want to see more numbers as far as the amount of users/streams as opposed to profits (not to mention the amount of piracy) to back up that claim

  3. Me

    So what you’re saying is that charging customers money for something earns you more money that letting them have it for free?

  4. Nicky Knight

    The whole streaming subscribers and free users numbers are very rubbery.. You might have one that says they have 70 million users … but that figure could include free trial users, free mobile/cell phone music bundles, in-car free/bonus music streaming … so they’re not “real” paid up subscribers when you drill down on the actual data..

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Spotify has 30 million paying subscribers, according to its published numbers.

      It is estimated that an additional 70 million are using the service on the free side (ad-supported, trial, etc.)

      Total overall = 100 mm

  5. Nicky Knight

    Vinyl Vinyl Vinyl – it’s like the new catch call..
    Who remembers what it’s like being in the independent game of manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and retailing … retailing on a sale-or-return basis… Ship Gold, Return Platinum .. (remember Neil Bogart / Casablanca Records and the Cher record..) – it’s a sure fire way to give you headaches and to lose money.. Who remembers what it’s like dealing with distributors….. (I do that’s who…)

  6. Fucked off and tired

    Ummm… how do you figure that $420M is larger than $1.5B. What a really terrible headline. Your own article contradicts it. “Free streaming generates nearly as much as vinyl” is accurate. “Streaming generates more than 3x the revenue of vinyl” is accurate. Your headline is a lie. Shame on you.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Huh? This article compares vinyl sales with free streaming (ie, not subscription). Paid subscription has its own revenue line item, which is also discussed in this piece.

  7. GGG

    Yes, question here. What is the point of leaving out paid streaming? You know, since that’s kinda what the whole goal of that is…?

  8. zazbbruh

    Do you really need a graph to explain the difference between two numbers?

    I already know the answer. It’s “no”.