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Corner Office from Marketplace

The music industry sings a sorrowful, flat note

Gigi Douban Mar 19, 2015
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Recording industry revenues were flat in 2014, according to a new report by the Recording Industry Association of America. About 15 years ago, revenues peaked at about $14.5 billion. Now the industry brings in half that.

“It’s a big drop, but a lot has happened in those years,” says Joshua Friedlander, vice president of strategic data analysis with the RIAA.

First, there was piracy. Then iTunes and Amazon made it easy to buy just one song for a buck, as opposed to an entire CD for maybe $15.  And then came streaming.

“I think there’s been an overall competition for people’s attention and their time,” says Serona Elton, director of the Music Business and Entertainment Studies Program at the University of Miami. She says people are spending their time and their money on other things. Who’s suffered the most?

“I think the first people, the first entities to feel it were definitely the record companies,” Elton says.

But, she says, there’s a trickle-down effect, from the artists to the songwriters. Except those making vinyl records. Those sales were up 50 percent. 

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