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Music Industry Sees Fastest Growth in More Than 20 Years

  • Spotify, Apple drive 17% gain in sales, strongest in 23 years
  • Streaming grows to more than triple physical sales of songs

The music business posted its fastest growth since Boyz II Men and Hootie & the Blowfish topped the charts 23 years ago.

U.S. recorded music sales climbed 17 percent to $8.7 billion last year, the second straight gain in domestic revenue, the Recording Industry Association of America said Thursday.

Sweet Streams

Online services spurred 17 percent growth in U.S. music sales last year

Source: Recording Industry Association of America

Subscription services such as Spotify and Apple Music led the charge, with sales from paid streaming climbing 63 percent to $4.09 billion. Streaming services, including internet radio, now account for almost two-thirds of industry revenue. Sales of CDs and other physical formats are second at 17 percent.

The music industry is hopeful this growth will continue. Amazon.com Inc., Pandora Media Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube are all entering the market with paid services. Streaming, first introduced a decade ago, is rescuing record labels that had been reeling from the years-long drop in CDs. Online sales of songs and albums from iTunes failed to stop the bleeding.

Spotify Technology SA, owner of the world’s largest paid music service, plans to list shares on the New York stock exchange next month.

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