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Music streaming profits beat CD sales for first time ever

by Jacob Kleinman | March 20, 2015March 20, 2015 9:00 pm EST

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Music streaming services like Spotify may rub some artists the wrong way, but that hasn’t stopped them from quickly becoming one of the most popular options out there. Now, it looks like streaming has finally surpassed regular old CDs.

A report from the Recording Industry Association of America (via CNET) reveals that music streaming revenue hit $1.87 billion in the U.S. in 2014, just barely beating the $1.85 billion in CD sales over the same 12 months. Despite all of the rapid growth from services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, digital downloads still dominate the market. Apple’s iTunes Store — not yet a streaming service — brought in $2.58 billion last year.

With Apple expected to launch its own paid music streaming service later this year there’s likely still plenty of room for growth in that market, though whether it will make up for declining physical sales remains to be seen. The RIAA notes that total music industry revenue dropped by half a percent to $6.97 billion in 2014. It may take more than a new app from Apple to turn that around.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...