Music Streaming Jumped to 80% of the U.S. Market by the End of the Decade

By Catie Keck on at

Music streaming made a killing this decade as far as western market domination – and more and more users are willing to pay for it too, according to statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America.

The organisation this week tweeted several infographics of music listening trends in the U.S. over the course of the last ten years, and by those figures, streaming now accounts for more than 80 per cent of the U.S. market. That’s up from 7 per cent in 2010, when digital downloads made up 38 percent of the market and physical music claimed a whopping 52 percent. By contrast, physical music and digital downloads each made up just 9 per cent of the U.S. market in 2019, according to the RIAA stats.

Moreover, paid services shot up significantly over the course of the last ten years. In 2010, paid music subscriptions in the U.S. amounted to just 1.5 million. By 2019, according to the RIAA, paid subscriptions shot past 61 million. There’s little surprise there, of course. With more and more paid music streaming services competing for your ears cropping up each year – and with ever more devices on which to stream them – curating your listening experience is easier than ever.

Plus, the number of music streaming options is likely to diversify as more companies shift to offering service bundles. An Amazon Prime subscription, for example, includes free streaming on Prime Video and ad-free listening on Prime Music as well as a discounted option for Amazon Music Unlimited. Spotify offers an ad-free student plan that includes Hulu and Showtime. And Apple is rumoured to be preparing a massive service bundle that includes Apple TV+, News+, and Apple Music that could launch in early 2020.

It's, of course, a similar story in the UK: according to a report on the BBC in November, streaming accounts for two thirds of all music consumption. Streams have shot from nine million annually in 2013 to over 90 million. It seems we Brits still enjoy physical media more than the US though: physical sales still account for almost a quarter of music consumption, and although CD sales are going down, vinyl sales have continued to rise over the decade.

More than just a couple of the companies that launched content streaming services last year or are releasing one in 2020 will have to figure out how to hold on to subscribers once they inevitably hike their prices – and in some cases, bundles may be part of that strategy. But at least where music is concerned, it appears that users are increasingly willing to cough up the dough for premium listening.