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73 Music Industry Statistics: 2020/2021 Facts, Sales & Analysis

by Arthur Zuckerman

The music industry, by its definition, is a group consisting of various companies, producers, and artists that aim to create and sell new kinds of music, concert shows, and more. This industry has been around for as early as the Rennaissance period. However, unlike today, music back then was exclusive only to aristocrats and the wealthy. From then on, the music industry has continuously evolved over the centuries.

Nowadays, music has never been more accessible. From CDs to vinyl to various streaming platforms, music can now be heard virtually anytime and anywhere. The convenience brought by the advancement of technology was both a boon for music lovers and, somehow, a bane for the industry. This article will further discuss this through various statistics about the industry below.

Industry Revenue Statistics

The music industry is a lucrative business. Each year, billions of dollars are reported as the industry’s annual revenue—writers, producers, artists, labels, and more benefit from the continuous patronage of music fans around the globe.

The emergence of music streaming disrupted the relatively straightforward business model of the music industry then. And in just a few years, streaming has now become an integral part of the industry. A testament to this is the amount of revenue the industry makes from streaming.

  • The reported global digital music revenue in 2018 to $2.3 billion.
  • Experts predict that by 2024, almost $5 billion in revenue will come from streaming.
  • About $400 million of revenue will come from digital downloads in the US by 2024.
  • There were 225 million paid music subscribers worldwide.
  • The number of paid subscribers grew by 27.8% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Breaking an artist into a major market can cost $2 million.
  • The US digital and customized radio services revenues were $1.16 billion in 2019.

Music Industry’s Global Revenues, by Segment Share

2018 data shows streaming is already a top revenue-grosser

Souce: IFPI

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Music Consumption & Behavior Statistics

The way people consume music has drastically changed over the years. From phonographs to Walkman to Spotify, these are just a few of the milestones the music industry has gone through. Additionally, genres also evolved to cater to the new music tastes of the general public. The 2010s saw the rise in popularity of K-Pop, for instance. Groups like BTS, EXO, and many more took the world by storm.

  • 9 out of 10 social media users do music-related social media activity.
  • US consumers spend an average of 4 hours a day listening to music.
  • 35% of Americans said that they attended live music concerts in 2018.
  • US K-Pop fans outspend the general population on total music spend.
  • K-Pop fans also listen more to music than the average American.
  • Social media is used to look for new music by 31% of all teens.
  • R&B/Hip-Hop with a 27.7% share is the most-consumed genre in 2019.

Streaming & Radio Statistics

Streaming is the future of the music industry. According to various year-end reports, streaming is showing no signs of slowing down. Unlike digital and physical sales, revenue from streaming is constantly showing year-over-year positive growth.

Radio is also a popular way to listen to music. Even in the streaming era, there is still a portion of the population that are fond of radios both online and in the airwaves. Many music labels submit their artists’ songs to radio stations to widen their reach. Once submitted, the general public can send a request to their local stations to play their favorite artists’ songs.

  • By the end of 2018, there were 255 million users of paid subscription accounts globally.
  • Streaming accounted for three-fourths of the total industry revenue in the US in 2018.
  • More than 1.2 trillion songs streamed on-demand in 2018.
  • On-demand streaming gained a positive 29.3% growth in 2019.
  • Post Malone had the biggest first-week on-demand audio streams in 2019 with 365.4 million.
  • Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” is 2019’s most-streamed song with 2.5 billion on-demand streams.
  • Radio is the top-used format in Germany (58%), Canada (51%), UK (51%), and US (44%).
  • Sucker by Jonas Brothers garnered 849,000 in radios in 2019.
  • In the US, 67% of the population have listened to online radio in the past month in 2019.
  • Online radio is popular among Americans between 12 and 24 years old with 91% of them saying they listen to online radio.
  • Americans spend 16 hours and 47 minutes listening to online radio.

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020

(number of times tracks have been streamed on Spotify)

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You: 2,478,840,828

Ed Sheeran - Shape of You

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Post Malone - rockstar: 1,888,774,668

Post Malone - rockstar

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
The Chainsmokers - Closer: 1,628,344,338

The Chainsmokers - Closer

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Drake - One Dance: 1,555,622,901

Drake - One Dance

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Tones and I - Dance Monkey: 1,473,102,887

Tones and I - Dance Monkey

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Post Malone - Sunflower - Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse: 1,447,727,110

Post Malone - Sunflower - Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Drake - God's Plan: 1,446,481,457

Drake - God's Plan

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Ed Sheeran - Perfect: 1,384,310,868

Ed Sheeran - Perfect

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
James Arthur - Say You Won't Let Go: 1,375,428,640

James Arthur - Say You Won't Let Go

Most-Streamed Tracks on Spotify Worldwide as of May 13, 2020
Shawn Mendes - Señorita: 1,372,974,583

Shawn Mendes - Señorita


Source:; Spotify

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Physical & Digital Sales Statistics

Physical or pure sales are dying. That’s a fact.

Previously, selling records was simple: buy a CD and that purchase will be tabulated in that week’s Billboard Hot 100 and in Nielsen SoundScan. However, that’s not the case anymore in the streaming era. With more people streaming albums and songs on services like Spotify and Apple Music, labels and artists alike are troubled. The reason for that is, one stream is not equivalent to one song sale.

On the other hand, there are still a handful of artists that pull phenomenal sales even in the streaming era. Taylor Swift, for example, managed to still cross the 1 million pure first-week sales for her 2017 album, Reputation. However, her 2019 album, Lover, failed to cross the 1 million mark with only 679,000 pure sales in its first week. Relatively speaking, she still did well compared to her peers. In almost all 2019 year-end reports, she is the only one who managed to sell 1 million pure copies.

  • In 2019, digital sales revenue declined by -23.5%.
  • Revenue from physical album sales declined by -15% in 2019.
  • Vinyl sales are up by 14.5%.
  • Japan (47%) and Germany (35%) are the two markets with the highest intent of purchasing physical copies.
  • Jazz genre sold the most physical albums in 2019 with 24% from the total SPS.
  • Digital sales dominated the Classical genre, accounting for 12% of the total album equivalent units.

Concert Statistics

Concerts are one of the many avenues in which labels and artists make money. Every year, hundreds of artists start their tours around the world to perform in front of thousands of their fans. Rock legends like U2 and The Rolling Stones are one of the most in-demand live performers in the past century. Moreover, pop stars like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran are also rising to become giants in the concert scene with their respective tours raking in millions and breaking records.

  • Music festivals in 2018 were attended by 23% of Americans.
  • Pink is the number one touring artist of 2019 worldwide with a tour gross of $215.2 million.
  • In 2019, Ed Sheeran sold about 2.5 million tickets.
  • Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour is the highest-grossing tour in the US and North American history, grossing $266.1 million.
  • U2’s 360° Tour has the highest average of attendance with 66,110 attendees per show.
  • Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour is the highest-grossing tour of all time, grossing over $775,046,937.
  • The record for most attended concert belongs to Vasco Rossi with an attendance of 225,173.
  • The Rolling Stones concerts have the most expensive tickets with an average price of $624.

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
U2: $1,038,104,132


Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
The Rolling Stones: $929,196,083

The Rolling Stones

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Ed Sheeran: $922,361,663

Ed Sheeran

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Taylor Swift: $899,627,048

Taylor Swift

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Bon Jovi: $868,715,392

Bon Jovi

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Beyoncé: $857,405,819


Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Paul McCartney: $813,811,559

Paul McCartney

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Coldplay: $731,805,591


Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: $729,789,815

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top Touring Artists of the Decade 2009-2019
Roger Waters: $702,231,419

Roger Waters


Source: Pollstar

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Record Label & Artists Statistics

The biggest record labels like Universal Music Group, Sony, Capitol, and many more are found in the US.

Before the dawn of the internet and streaming, for an artist to get famous, they need to sign a contract with a label. The label will then fund an artist’s work, in return for the master license to the songs and albums published within the timeframe in the contract. Moreover, record labels are also responsible for the marketing and radio releases of their artists’ works.

In the streaming era, this ecosystem can be considered obsolete. Nowadays, artists can release their songs through streaming platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube, and more without the fear of not having full ownership of their works. These platforms offer compensation for artists who upload their work based on the number of views or streams it received within a certain period.

  • In 2018, the US Census Bureau estimated that the revenue of US music publishers was $6.12 billion.
  • Music publishers in the US were estimated to have an annual expense of $2.36 billion.
  • The biggest market share in the industry belongs to independent labels with 41.4%.
  • The average industry growth of independent label music production in the US from 2014 to 2019 is 2.5%.
  • As of 2019, there are 3,338 independent labels in the US.
  • Independent labels employ about 3,900 people.
  • In 2017, 658 new artists signed to major labels.
  • Adele is the best-selling album artist of the decade, selling over 23,924,000 albums.
  • Taylor Swift topped the 2019 list for song sales, selling over 75,893,000 copies.
  • Drake dominated streaming in the last decade, garnering 36,335,298,000 on-demand streams.
  • Taylor Swift is the only artist in history to sell 1 million album units in the first week of release for 4 consecutive albums.
  • Adele holds the record of the fastest-selling album for “25,” selling over 3,378,000 copies in its first week.

Charts & Certification Statistics

For artists and labels, certifications and chart positions are great indicators that their song is a massive success. The Recording Industry Association of America or RIAA is the governing body when it comes to giving out certifications. These certifications are divided into four classifications: Gold, Platinum, Multi-Platinum, and Diamond in that order of magnitude.

Chart positions are also an important factor in determining a song’s success. One of the prominent chart makers is Billboard. For over 125 years, Billboard has ranked every album and song released in the US based on how many copies it sold. Starting from 2017, albums are ranked based on the total sales plus streaming score or SPS. These SPS scores are the combination of track equivalent albums (TEA), streaming equivalent albums (SEA), and pure sales.

  • The Beatles topped Billboard’s Top 125 Greatest of all Time Artists.
  • At 8th place, Taylor Swift was the only artist that debuted this century to make the top 10 of Billboard’s Greatest of all Time Artists list.
  • Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus is the longest-charting number one song in the Hot 100 with 18 weeks.
  • “The Dark Side Of The Moon” by Pink Floyd is the longest-charting album on the Billboard Hot 200 with 950 weeks.
  • Taylor Swift’s “ME!” featuring Brendon Urie holds the record for the biggest single-week upward movement when it debuted at #100 and jumped to #2, the following week.
  • “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson holds the record for the biggest jump to number one when it debuted at #97.
  • With 208 songs that charted, Drake is the number one artist with the most Hot 100 entries.
  • Only 37 songs have debuted at number one in the Hot 100.
  • “Eagles/Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975” is the highest certified Diamond album by the RIAA which more than 38 million copies.
  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson sold 33 million copies making it RIAA’s highest certified Diamond album by a solo male artist.
  • Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” is RIAA’s highest certified Diamond album from a solo female artist with over 20 million units sold.
  • The RIAA certified that “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee sold over 13 million copies, making it the highest certified Diamond single.
  • Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” is the highest certified Diamond single for a male soloist, selling more than 12 million copies worldwide.
  • Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is a certified Diamond with over 11 million copies sold, making it the highest certified single from a female soloist.
  • Garth Brooks remains as the artist with the most Diamond certifications with eight.
  • The Beatles topped the list of bands and groups with their 6 Diamond certifications.
  • Shania Twain is the top female soloist with 3 Diamond certifications.
  • “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas is iTunes best-selling song with 31 million copies sold.

Source: RIAA

The Music Industry: What Lies Ahead?

The future is streaming.

Slowly, the pure sales segment of the industry is declining. Having the cheap option of paying an average of as little as $10 per month, music lovers are more inclined to avail of streaming services. The annual growth of the industry’s revenue from streaming somehow mirrors the growth of the number of paid subscribers across all music streaming platforms.

With the majority of music lovers on streaming platforms, record labels, and artists alike are most likely to take advantage of this by doing targeted ads to heavily promote their songs. Aside from that, interactivity between users and artists through these platforms is more likely to rise in the coming years given the technology.

The statistics in this article are not only meant to inform but to show you a clearer picture of the industry and its artists as a whole.

If your business has music-related content, capitalize on the behavior of music consumers to your benefit. Moreover, if you’re already in the business as an event organizer for concerts, you may want to look at various event management software that can help you out.



  1. IFPI Global Music Report 2019
  2. Forecast of Digital Music revenue by segment in the United States 2017-2024
  3. Global recorded-music and music publishing market share results for 2018
  4. Nielsen Releases In-Depth Statistics on Live Music Behavior: 52 Percent of Americans Attend Shows
  5. IFPI | How record labels invest
  7. Smart Speaker Surge: Ownership Expands To One In Four Americans.
  8. More Younger Consumers Abandoning Radio for Digital-Only Listening On Their Devices: Study
  9. Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ Is The Only Album Of 2019 To Sell 1 Million Pure Copies
  11. Survey Says Smart Speaker Sales Drive Online Audio Listening
  12. Audio and Podcasting Fact Sheet
  14. Albums That Sold 1 Million in One Week
  15. Taylor Swift Closes Reputation Stadium Tour with $345 Million
  16. Billboard Power 100: U2 & Paul McGuinness
  17. Ed Sheeran Earned More on Tour In 2018 Than Anyone Else In 30 Years
  18. Rossi Sets Record In Italy
  19. Top 10 most expensive tickets
  20. New Report Illustrates How Modern Record Labels Remade Themselves in the Streaming Era
  21. US Census Bureau | Annual Services Report
  22. 2018 RIAA Music Industry Revenue Statistics | RIAA
  23. Independent Label Music Production Industry in the US – Market Research Report
  24. Billboard’s Top 125 Artists of All Time: The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Madonna & More
  25. The Longest-Leading Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s
  26. Doja Cat’s ‘Say So,’ Featuring Nicki Minaj, Tops Billboard Hot 100, Becoming the First No. 1 For Each
  27. Here Are the 37 Hits That Have Debuted at No. 1 On the Hot 100
  28. 4 Ways Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need To Calm Down’ Helped Her Make History Inside The Top 10
  30. The 20 Top Selling iTunes Songs of All-Time

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