Streaming revenue overtakes CDs and downloads for first time in US

New figures show more than a third of the industry's revenue was made from streaming services

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Image: Jae C. Hong / AP/Press Association Images

New figures suggest that streamed music made more money than digital downloads and CDs in the US last year.

A review of the music industry's earnings in 2015 for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has shown that streaming accounted for 34.4% of revenues - compared to only 27% in 2014.

The numbers include streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, as well as internet radio stations and services such as YouTube and Vevo.

A majority of the streaming revenue - $1.2bn (€1bn) - came from paid subscription services, with ad-supported services earning $385m (€343m) for the music industry.

In comparison, digital downloads accounted for 34% of the music industry's total $7bn (€6.24bn) revenue, with physical media at 28.8%. While CD sales fell, vinyl revenue increased.

RIAA says "the data for 2015 shows a music industry that continues to adopt digital distribution platforms for the majority of its revenues. While overall revenue levels were only up slightly, large shifts continued to occur under the surface as streaming continued to increase its market share.

"In 2015, the industry had the most balanced revenue mix in recent history, with just about a third of revenues coming from each of the major platform categories: streaming, permanent downloads, and physical sales".

Yesterday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced in a tweet that his streaming service has passed 30 million subscribers.

A number of prominent musicians, including Taylor Swift and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, have criticised the low payments artists receive from streaming services.