50 Million Reasons For Optimism

3 min readFeb 28, 2019

Brandi Carlile. Travis Scott. Dua Lipa. Drake. Luke Combs. Kacey Musgraves. Khalid. J Balvin. Dan + Shay. Willie Nelson. Cardi B. Rosanne Cash. Carrie Underwood. Lil Wayne. Ariana Grande. Boz Scaggs. 21 Pilots. Camila Cabello. BTS. Hayley Kiyoko.

These were just some of the groundbreaking artists who partnered with their labels on new music released last year — and the list goes on and on. That tremendous output from the artist community fueled a historic milestone of 50 million subscriptions to music services, which in turn helped drive U.S. music’s third consecutive year of double-digit growth. Details are available in our 2018 year-end revenue report out today.

Musicians and the dedicated label teams that support them are driving incredible engagement in today’s music world, where fans have greater access than ever to the music they want to hear via the 400-plus licensed services globally at their fingertips.

You can feel rising excitement and optimism within the halls of the record labels, and it’s a moment worth celebrating.

Fifty million subscriptions illustrate fans’ unrivaled love for music and the way it shapes our identities and culture — and showcases an industry that has embraced the future and found a healthy path forward in the digital economy.

Rejuvenation in the industry means more opportunities to find and break new artists for fans to enjoy. In response to a growing market, labels are doubling down on what they do best: investing in great music makers and innovative businesses to realize creative visions and bolster the strong connection between artists and their fans.

According to an illuminating recent report (“Same Heart. New Beat”) by NYU Steinhardt Music Business Program Director Larry Miller, more than 650 new artists were signed to major labels in 2017, a significant increase over prior years. At the same time, labels’ evolution continues, with teams working 24/7 to support their artist partners with coordinated global campaigns that turn local breakouts into international superstars.

Make no mistake, many challenges continue to confront our community. As noteworthy as it is for the business to approach $10 billion in revenues again, that only returns U.S. music to its 2007 levels. Stream-ripping, and a lack of accountability for many Big Tech companies that drive down the value of music, remain serious threats as the industry strives for additional growth.

But there is reason for buoyed optimism among those who help create music. Recognizing that there is more work to do, labels remain focused on building an ecosystem where every responsible player does its part to ensure that innovation continues to thrive, fans continue to be connected and engaged, and everyone is paid fairly for their work.

That’s how the modern music business will reach its full potential. It’s a market that’s only possible through the hard work and support of people with intense passion for music and unparalleled expertise who recognize that the business can never be simply reduced to algorithms or data mining.

We still have a long way to go. But as our report illustrates, there are reasons to be excited for today and eager for tomorrow.

What an exhilarating time for music, and what a fun time to be a music fan.

Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO, RIAA




The RIAA is about music — everything from fostering its creative and financial vitality to honoring artists who achieve success.