The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has released its final report on U.S. Music Sale Revenues for 2022 and it looks like trends revealed in its previous 2022 mid-year report have held steady, which is good news for vinyl listeners.
Whilst the increase in vinyl sales is a positive for the segment, there is softness in the market due to inflation, high album prices, and a lack of supply. There are not enough pressing plants to meet the demand and it takes time for these types of facilities to open and start supplying the market. There are at least 3 new pressing plants opening in the U.S. in 2023 but we will have to wait until the H1 2023 sales figures are released to know if things are changing.
NOTE: The information provided by the RIAA is for the U.S. market only. Worldwide recorded music revenue trends, especially within specific categories may differ.
Revenue from vinyl records increased in 2022, while CD sales revenue fell flat. Vinyl Record sales surpassed that of CDs for the first year since 1987 (that’s 35 years!).
Vinyl record sales increased for the 16th year in a row. For 2022, that increase amounted to 17% over 2021 to $1.2 billion dollars. That represents 41 million albums sold.
On the other hand, CD sales revenue fell in 2022, down 18% from 2021 percent to $483 million or 33 million CDs sold. This is not good news for CDs.
Why Vinyl Records Are Popular in the Age of Streaming
There are several reasons vinyl record fans give for the popularity of the format, some of which include::
- The warmth of analog sound — which is debatable.
- You can hold the record (and by extension) the music in your hands.
- You can go to the record store and physically browse.
- The beauty of album cover art
- You own the music. It becomes a part of your music library that can’t be censored or removed.
- The culture of vinyl records – The Annual Record Store Day
However, although things look bright for vinyl, which is a major force keeping physical media alive, streaming and other digital delivery options have definitely captured consumer dollars and listening time.
Streaming music revenue grew 24% in 2021 to $12.4 billion (83% of total revenue music revenue).
The streaming category includes:
- Paid Subscription Services
- Ad-supported Free Services
- Digital and Customized Radio
- Licenses paid for the use of music on Facebook and Digital Fitness Apps.
Paid Subscriptions: These music streaming services grew 8% to $10 billion in 2022. This is about two-thirds of total music revenue, and 77% of streaming revenues. Services like Amazon Prime, Pandora Plus, music licenses for music used in digital fitness apps, and other subscriptions are included in this category. Limited-tier subscriptions (services limited by mobile access, catalog availability, product features, or device restrictions), are also included. This segment generated $1.1 billion in 2022 which is 18% higher than for 2021.
Ad-supported Free Services: These services include on-demand streaming (YouTube, the ad-supported version of Spotify, Facebook, and others) grew 6% in 2022 to $1.8 billion. Ad-supported services reached 11% of total recorded music revenue in 2022.
Digital and Customized Radio: Revenue from digital and customized radio grew 2% to $1.2 billion in 2022. This includes SoundExchange which collects payments from SiriusXM and Internet radio stations, as well as payments directly paid by similar services labeled as “other ad-supported streaming”. Soundxchange distributes digital performance royalties to recording artists and master rights owners’ accounts. SoundExchange distributions fell 3% to $959 million in 2022, while other ad-supported streaming revenues were up 28% to $261 million.
Despite increases in music streaming, digital download revenue decreased again in 2022. The decrease was down 20% to $495 million. Digital album sales were down 20% to $242 million and individual track downloads decreased to $214 million.
For 2022, digital downloads were only 3% of recorded music revenue. You would think that digital downloads would be more popular, but that is not the case.
More from RIAA
- The RIAA has also released a report on U.S. Latin Music Revenues for 2022 (pdf)
- For a look at historical recorded music trends by format, check out the RIAA U.S. Sales Database.
March 12, 2023 at 9:54 pm
Shopping at a good record store is a fun.
March 13, 2023 at 11:24 am
Indeed it is.
March 13, 2023 at 4:37 pm
Are these units moved or total revenue? I suspect more cds sold than vinyl albums.
March 13, 2023 at 5:06 pm
I believe it is both. But physical vinyl units sold actually exceeded physical CDs sold for the first time in decades. These are only domestic numbers. CDs are still very popular in Europe and Asia and I’m willing to bet CD sales were higher in those markets.
March 14, 2023 at 8:49 am
It should be more interesting to compare number of sold units instead of revenues … the very high price of vinyls vs cd’s can (it does for sure) make the statistics unreliable … a vinyl can cost 10/15 times a cd