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For the first time, streaming music beat digital sales in 2015

This hasn't happened before: in 2015, the revenue generated by music streaming was bigger than digital music sales
March 23, 2016

Welcome to the future, folks. Because for the first time, it seems that in 2015 the revenue generated from music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify was greater than sales of digital music downloads.

$2.4 billion

$2.4 billion

$2.4 billion

The news comes from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and reached us via AppleInsider. According to the RIAA, streaming services including the recent Apple Music generated a huge $2.4 billion in 2015 in the United States. And this, for the first time, was greater than the cash generated from digital sales in music stores like iTunes, the report explains.

Below, you can see a percentage breakdown: streaming was responsible for 34.3 percent, while digital sales were responsible for 34.0 percent. It's a narrow margin, for sure, and isn't too far ahead of physical sales, which were accountable for 28.8 percent of U.S. revenues. However, the trend is indeed set to continue: in a few years, I can imagine the chunk held by streaming services is only set to increase. I know I don't buy music these days: Apple Music takes care of everything.

As you can see above, between 2010 and 2015 revenue from streaming services has increased by almost five times. Of course, more services have been added in recent years: Apple Music and Tidal have entered the market, and Spotify's popularity has continued to increase (even if some customers, like me, have left for Cupertino's own service).

By comparison, revenue from digital downloads fell 12.8 percent for singles and 5.2 percent for full albums, ending the year at $1.25 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively. Kiosk, ringtone and music video sales brought in another $64.7 million.

- AppleInsider

The advent of smartphone use for music consumption has a big part to play in all of this: at the home, at work, and on the go my iPhone is the source of all my music. Apple Music's partnership with Sonos has played a big part in all of this, and it's one of the main reasons I'm using Cupertino's service so much.

The music industry grew by 0.9 percent altogether, the report added, and generated a whopping $7 billion. As of February, Apple Music had 11 million subscribers, and as such the service had no small part to play in the prevalence of music streaming more generally. Are you a subscriber yet?