in Business, Music

U.S. music revenues

A recent Stratechery post pointed me in the direction of these wonderful graphs of music revenues and sales. They fascinate me.

Some random thoughts:

  • Ringtone revenues were massive, for a very short period. 2005 is when they register on the graphs, but by 2008 they are already in decline. I would have thought that they would be correlated to the introduction of the iPhone, but the sales seem to pre-date it.
  • I’d never heard the term ‘synchronisation’ before. Apparently it is the payment for using songs in films, TV shows and adverts (and presumably videogames too).
  • Physical music video sales were never a big thing but they don’t seem to be killed off until 10 years after YouTube turned up in 2005.
  • I’d forgotten that cassette singles were a thing. I had some. I barely played them.
  • 1998 was the peak revenue for recorded music in the U.S., adjusted for inflation. Paid streaming subscriptions now dominate, as you would expect, but the revenues are way down. Spotify has never turned an annual profit. It would be interesting (and probably impossible) to see what a graph of total artist payouts for recorded music sales looks like. Maybe the revenue decline for artists is a return to a historical norm.
  • I don’t know what the ‘Kiosk’ category is. It seems to start in 2005, but is barely noticeable.
  • LPs/EPs really dominate the early years of the graph. I guess that by 1973 we are already beyond the era of singles being the main focus.

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