Number of music streaming subscribers in America now equal Canada’s population
Okay, okay -- almost. According to information recently released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the total number of paid subscriptions in the United States for on demand music streaming brands such as Spotify and Apple Music has increased 56 percent in 2017, now reaching a staggering 35.3 million people. That nearly equals the population of the whole country of Canada, which is at 36.29 million (as of 2016).
Quite obviously, subscriptions to these types of services is the foremost driver in fostering growth, not only in the music streaming business, but also in the whole music industry. As a matter of fact, last year saw the music industry in America increase 16.5 percent, with credit to the ever growing popularity of music streaming.
In 2017, earnings from music streaming also made up close to two thirds of the total revenues of the US music industry. It is quite remarkable how music streaming has gained such significant traction among consumers in the last few years, considering that just a couple of years ago, the market for music streaming was only as big as the market for downloaded music. But now, the market share of downloads is now less than all types of physical music sales combined.
RIAA’s recent data is further proof that today’s consumers, especially those who love listening to their favorite tracks anywhere, are rapidly changing the way they purchase music. Not too long ago, being an avid fan of popular music meant scouring record stores for CDs, or browsing through online stores and spending cash (or their parents’) in order to be able to download a single track or a whole album from the Queens of the Stone Age. But now, being a music lover now involves paying a monthly fee to enjoy access to ridiculously extensive libraries of songs and albums as offered by Spotify or Apple Music, or connecting to the world wide web in order to view or listen to music on YouTube.
As for the music industry, perhaps the more important question is: will the growing acceptance of music streaming lift an industry that has been ailing since before the end of the millennium? While it is true that music streaming is gaining some momentum right now and driving growth in the music industry, total music sales are still only 40 percent compared to the earnings registered in 1999. But one can also argue that the rise of music streaming has only begun, and with the 5G era just around the corner, streaming will likely soar to new heights in the years to come.