Recording has come a long way from the phonograph cylinder, the first recording device that was invented by Thomas Edison. Recording formats have gone from mechanical to magnetic, optical, and digital. For a long time, music CDs were synonymous with quality, and even the higher-definition optical formats – like DVD-A – were unable to put a dent in its dominance. Today, in turn, it is time to go where forgotten formats retire: according to the mid-year revenue statistics published by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), CD sales have declined by almost half from their already low-level last year. And the report had a surprise: vinyl sales have grown by 2.3% (and vinyl sales revenues by 3.6%) in the last year, making up more than 60% of all physical record sales in the US.

The Vinyl Revival

The timeline of the music industry you can check out at the JackpotCity Online Casino blog clearly shows how music transitioned from physical records to digital downloads and later streaming. Recently, streaming has become the most widely used distribution channel – in the first half of this pandemic-ridden year, it was responsible for 85% of North American music sales. The pandemic is also responsible for a massive decrease in physical music sales – but these decreases only affected CD sales.

Vinyl has returned into the spotlight a few years ago – and it started selling so fast that industry analysts predicted, in 2018, that it will overtake CD sales in a few years. Today, this day is closer than ever: in the first half of 2020, the number of CDs shipped in North America was just 10.2 million (45.2% fewer than last year’s 18.6 million), while vinyl (LP and EP) sales have grown by 200,000, to 8.8 million units, worth a total of $232 million.

Streaming Takes Over

The revenue generated by music streaming services between mid-2019 and this year has grown by 12%, reaching a market share of 85% in North America. This percentage may be even higher in other areas where many people have reportedly transitioned directly from broadcast radio to ad-supported on-demand streaming. Paid subscriptions made up more than half of all the revenues reported by the RIAA, followed by ad-supported on-demand services like YouTube and Spotify’s free tier.

The number of paid subscriptions has grown pretty seriously compared to 2019 – by 24%, to around 72 million subscriptions. At the same time, permanent digital downloads have decreased in all areas – singles, albums, even ringtones were downloaded by far fewer people than a year before.

Streaming Is The Future?

The digital revolution in the music industry happened years ago when people transitioned from physical supports to digital downloads and streaming. Now, we’re witnessing another digital revolution – this time, it’s live music that moves from the stage to streaming. This year, the public health situation made it virtually impossible for live music events to be held so promoters had to find an alternative solution.

Earlier this year Tomorrowland, one of the biggest EDM festivals in the world, held a very successful virtual edition with millions of participants from all over the globe. And Kpop band BTS held the most successful virtual concert in history: the 100-minute show attracted 756,000 viewers from around the globe, generating revenues of almost $19 million and showing the world that it can be done. Considering the state of the pandemic, this may be a new normal from now on.

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