Charting a Path to Music’s Sustainable Success

3 min readFeb 25, 2020

With today’s release of the RIAA’s full-year 2019 revenue report for U.S. recorded music, two things are abundantly clear:

  • Paid subscription streaming is driving the return to growth; and
  • Achieving long-term sustainable success still requires good public policies.

Driven by paid streaming, U.S. recorded music revenues grew by 13 percent to $11.1 billion in 2019, at estimated retail value. Total revenues from streaming grew 20% to $8.8 billion, accounting for nearly 80% of all recorded music revenues.

Of that, paid subscriptions to on-demand streaming services contributed by far the largest share of revenues as well as the biggest portion of revenue growth for the year. Total 2019 subscription revenues of $6.8 billion were up 25% versus the prior year, and accounted for 61% of total recorded music revenues in the U.S.

Paid streaming services added an average of more than 1 million new subscriptions per month, as the total number of paid subscribers in the U.S. topped 60 million.

That growth didn’t “just happen.” First and foremost, it requires great music from amazing artists. Over the last decade, record labels have charted a path to new vitality and success by partnering with artists and licensing both established distributors and new start-ups to increase competition and choice.

Today, music companies are delivering fans exciting and attractive music experiences online, offline and everywhere in between. At its core, it’s all about the artists and their music — and always will be.

And as the data released today proves, record companies are successfully walking that path. In 2019, fans enjoyed more music than ever before, as Americans streamed 1.5 trillion songs.

Music isn’t “transitioning to digital”– it is leading a digital-first business.

Today’s report reflects the prospect of a future in which creators have a path forward.

But it also reveals how much farther we must go to assure a healthy music community in which all music is valued and creators are fairly compensated. We still have not realized the full value of music on all digital services.

Music is by far the biggest draw to tech platforms, gaining views and listens that generate enormous revenues for distributors, but in many cases this happens without an appropriate share for creators. Our technology partners also need to commit themselves to protecting and promoting artists’ work by doing more to stop stream-ripping and other forms of piracy. That requires the platforms to work more productively with the music community as partners to stop theft and respect the true value of music.

As we continue to work to meet these challenges, it is worth taking this moment to reflect on what we have accomplished: by investing in a vibrant music culture of diverse voices, music companies have driven a fourth consecutive year of double digit growth and continued to build a digital-driven industry with a focus on the future. We are working in partnership with the entire music community to provide expanded opportunities for both artists and fans and keep the heart of American culture beating for another generation.

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.