The music industry: it all depends on how you look at it! Here’s an animated look at the massive transformations witnessed over the past 10 years.
It’s been a pretty wild transformation for the music industry — and this is just the past 10 years.
The above breakdown reflects the sales of every type of recording format, based on US-based reports from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). You can find all of these reports on the RIAA site.
Quick update/clarification: this is an animation of relative sales, not total sales. So even if 2016 sales were double that of 2010, the overall quadrant would be the same size.
2016 is the last full reporting period available (though we’ll update once we get 2017 half-year stats).
During the period, digital formats surged to easily outperform physical formats.
Perhaps most astoundingly, the CD was still a dominant music industry format back in 2007, despite a mature music downloading sector and an emerging streaming space. Fast-forward to the present, and streaming has become the dominant force, with paid subscriptions easily the biggest breadwinner for the entire recording industry.
Vinyl records are also showing handsome gains. But the format remains niche, and broader questions about its future growth potential remain. Regardless, sales of turntables are also booming, though hardware and players aren’t reflected in the above animation.
Separately, live concert revenues are also exploding, though that’s another animation entirely (back with that soon).
Of course, all of this is still transitioning rapidly. Looking ahead, the next few years will probably include a continued surge for streaming formats. That’s thanks to ever-growing players like Spotify and YouTube. Accordingly, we can also expect brutal declines in both paid downloads and CDs, though it’s unclear exactly when each will face extinction.
Actually, on that note: there are plenty of prognosticators who foresee a future for both formats. Indeed, both formats have their utilities within certain demos. In particularly, older segments still like CDs, and plenty of music fans still rely on the offline download.
Perhaps ringtones are the most endangered, though amazingly the format is still worth tens of millions — in the US alone.