US music revenues show streaming is the big winner, but vinyl and CD sales grow again

Vinyl record collection
(Image credit: Future)

2023 saw solid growth in recorded music revenues in the US for the eighth year in a row. Total revenues grew 8 per cent to a record high of $17.1 billion estimated retail value.

Physical music sales have seen a resurgence in recent years, with a lot of the attention going towards vinyl, however, streaming remains to the biggest driver of growth in the industry. This is thanks in part to record levels of engagement from paid subscriptions and growth in ad-supported revenues.


RIAA Streamed Music Revenue

(Image credit: RIAA)

For the second year running, streaming services made up 84 per cent of total music revenues in 2023. 78 per cent of all streaming revenue came from paid subscriptions, which brought in $11.2 billion dollars.

Music revenues from advertisement-supported on-demand services, such as YouTube and the the ad-supported version of Spotify, grew at a slower pace than previous years, increasing by 2 per cent to $1.9 billion, contributing 11 per cent of the total recorded music revenues.

Digital downloads

RIAA Digitally Downloaded Music Revenue

(Image credit: RIAA)

The revenues from digitally downloaded music continued to fall, down 12 per cent to $434 million in 2023.

Just 3 per cent of US recorded music revenues in 2023 came from digital downloads, a significant drop from a peak of 43 per cent of revenues in 2012 just over a decade ago. 

This is perhaps not all that surprising, considering the rise in physical media and a change in ideas surrounding the value of ownership and accessibility. 

Physical formats

RIAA Physical Music Revenue

(Image credit: RIAA)

2021 saw an impressive reemergence for physical music formats and this growth is continuing. 

Total physical revenues increased by 11 per cent from the previous year, reaching a total of $1.9 billion. Vinyl record sales accounted for 71 per cent of all physical music revenue and grew by 10 per cent to $1.4 billion, marking 17 years of consecutive growth. 

This marks only the second time since 1987 that vinyl albums have outsold CDs in units, amassing 43 million sales compared with CD's 37 million. CD still performed well in 2023, however, with sales of the format up by 11 per cent to $537 million.


The vinyl revival continues as sales hit their highest levels in decades

Vinyl sales officially trumped CDs for a second year in a row

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Staff Writer

Ainsley Walker is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied music journalism at university before working in a variety of roles including as a freelance journalist and teacher. Growing up in a family of hi-fi enthusiasts, this naturally influenced his interest in the topic. Outside of work, Ainsley can be found producing music, tinkering with retro tech, or cheering on Luton Town.

  • Rui
    I would like to refer that i personally when starting to have a streaming service i got laizy ,i would open the software and instead of looking for titles in a big record and cd colection i would select my favorite songs ,making playlists .

    Also recording it to a cassette with the crossfader on spotify available and having a lot of TDK chrome cassettes unopened in boxes of 10 but having thousands that i save from being incinerated ,making me restore at least two cassette decks this for domestic use .

    Almost no person i know uses cassettes, and when recording a cassette on my first restored deck i notice it was better mostly in bands that have a very high number of tracks in each channel the cassette stays better sounding than in a good minidisc deck that i was still using either than recording cds on my P.C. ,first in a big CD-R from Pioneer that today is only a good cd player with the litle turntable ,having also crystal meters.

    But ,having spotify i started to discover titles that none of my friends had or even never had heard of it´s existance, like bands i didn´t knew they had released more recent albums , or musicians that together recorded a album ,

    this to say that since the year 1999 ,i never bought a new cd or record but, after having spotify i bought again records that i had but because they were filled with dried white mold or humidity that glued the dust to the record grooves , i bought them again and many others that i would like to have in record(vinyl) that were better sounding in vinyl and also restarted to buy again cds , most of them in 2nd hand but some new.

    To end, this streaming services made me buy again new original recordings, it made me also put to work two of my turntables that were very expensive when i bought them and still had several substitution needles for my main cartridges ,having a lot of diferent turntables models from diferent years since late 60´s to 1979 . Only after bought three turntables ,a Technics ,a Pioneer and a Thorens.

    Only recentelly bought a new turntable the P10 from Rega, this in early last year´s month of december, it was the only that was close to the sound i was used to but, have much better ones.

    This to complete a new modern system that i started to buy it maybe 4 years ago starting by a MA500(might not be the correct reference) receiver from Magnat ,with pre-amplification tubes ,and sounds really good ,

    So , streaming services made me again buy new records, two i ordered in 2nd hand from germany using Ebay but with perfect sound, and 2nd hand cds or promotions on on-line stores. i do not get this new generation that only uses spotify .

    That made me realize that they really don´t like, better saying they do listen music but just what is fashion, or maybe some old songs they heard somewhere, nothing they would want to keep phisically,

    some do digitalize cds and have them in several diferent type of files available ,so they can transport it to a MP3 or other type of file storage to hear on the smartphone or digital players, with headphones

    I think has me ,older persons who can buy a phisical format ,no one that enjoys listening to music wouldn´t only depend on a streaming service as they from time to time change the music they have available or just having a computer or streaming component not working they wouldn´t have other source of listening to music.

    Other thing i have to refer is new amplifiers or receivers have one or no output line to record music. They made it , for decades they wanted to stop people making home recordings. but in reality there are always shortcuts to have them recorded, some do keep in use their old formats