By this point, the proliferation of vinyl in the music industry is a well-known fact. Sales of vinyl have been soaring while CDs have fallen off the map. In 2015, old music outsold new music, in part due to the fact that people love buying records, because of the sound quality and the tangible aspects of having a record. On the flipside of vinyl is online streaming, the way of the future. Well, the way of the future, or at least the free streaming part of it, actually made less money than vinyl did in 2015.
Last year, vinyl sales of LPs and EPs rose 32% to $416 million. This is the highest vinyl sales have been since 1988. Sure, this only accounts for a small portion of the $7 billion the record industry made overall, but it is more than they made through advertising on free services such as YouTube and Spotify. While this revenue grew 31% in its own right, which is still less than vinyl sales grew, it topped out at $385 million.
Now, paid streaming services are doing better, and streaming overall had $2.4 billion in revenues. Vinyl does remain niche, and services like Apple Music and Tidal still bring in real cash. Additionally, this report doesn’t take into account online radio services such as Pandora. However, the fact remains that free streaming advertising is not making as much money for artists as a music delivery service that is decidedly archaic. In discussing this news, chairman and CEO of the RIAA Cary Sherman said, “some technology giants have been enriching themselves at the expense of the people who actually create the music.” So, if you were wondering where musicians get their money from, it’s not from that Squarespace ad you heard on Spotify.