CDs and vinyl rake in more cash than iTunes song downloads

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Apple Music's doing pretty darn well, though!
Photo: Apple

What’s old is new again! According to a new report, U.S. music buyers now spend more money on vinyl and CDs than they do on iTunes downloads.

That’s a big fall for Apple’s 99 cents-per-track music service, which was on top of the world just a few years ago.

In total, download sales (dominated by iTunes) fell 26 percent to $1.04 billion in 2018. This is the sixth consecutive year of falling download sales. Permanent downloads of albums fell by a quarter to bring in just $500 million.

Individual track sales, meanwhile, collapsed 28 percent to bring in a total of $490 million. In all, downloads were approximately 11 percent of music revenues. (As recently as 2013, they made up an impressive 42 percent.)

Physical media sales were also down 23 percent to $1.15 billion. While CDs continued to spiral downloads, vinyl sales increased 7.9 percent. In total, vinyl raked in $419.2. That’s within striking range of the revenue brought in by iTunes singles for the year!

Streaming’s going up, up, up

Don’t shed too many tears for Apple, though. iTunes sales may be down, but Apple has long since switched to focusing on Apple Music.

Revenues from streaming music platforms grew 30 percent year-over-year to reach $7.4 billion. That represents 75 percent of the total music revenue for the year. Streaming encompasses a wide variety of business models, including paid subscription services, ad-supported on-demand services, and more.

Of these, paid subscription models like Apple Music were the most successful. According to the music industry RIAA report:

“Adoption of paid subscription services continued to grow quickly in 2018. The average number of paid subscriptions (excluding limited tier options) grew 42% compared with the prior year, exceeding 50 million for the rst time ever. On average, more than one million new subscriptions were added on a monthly basis.”

Apple Music, at last count, had around 56 million subscribers. Paid subscription services brought in $4.66 billion in 2018. While Apple isn’t the only player in this field, it and Spotify are the two clear leaders.

Via: CNET