Latest format revenues and units sold

Latest data collected by an cutesy of RIAA is available here. Compares revenues for first six months of 2020 with first 6 months of 2019.


  • Streaming and subscriptions now account for 84.8% of all revenues.
  • The number of paid subcriptions increased to 72million, an increase of 23%.
  • Permanent downloads now account for 6.2% of all revenues.
  • Subscription revenues increased by 12%, whereas download revenues declined slightly in 2020.
  • Physical sales were 6.6% of total revenue in 2020.
  • Of those physical sales, CD fell by almost half to 2.3% of total revenues as 10.2
    million units shipped.
  • LP sales revenues increased to 4.1% of total revenues, double the contribution of CD, but slightly less units at 8.8 million.
  • On average, in 2020 the revenue for each LP is about $26, each CD about $13 and each album download about $10.
  • There is a category called “CD Singles, Cassettes, Vinyl Singles, DVD Audio, SACD” - total revenues of $4.1 million and 200,000 units sold. The average of that is about $20 per unit, suggesting a lot is SACD. If they were all SACD, it is still only one SACD for every 95 CD or LP and one SACD for every 85 digital album downloads.

Total digital revenues are now 93% of all revenues, and most of the 7% physical are now LPs. It is notable that even though digital has almost completely taken over, people are less interested in “owning” a digital copy.


This is about what I expected. Streaming and digital downloads have been on the rise for some time.

Streaming and digital downloads generated 65% of revenues as far back as 2013. Then it was mostly downloads. The Qobuz business plan was based on many customers buying digital downloads, which has largely evaporated and subscription streaming really now has a firm grip.

The consumer has more and more choice, the artists negligible revenue and they can’t tour.