As reported by Music Business Worldwide, Sony, Universal and Warner earned a combined USD $6.93 billion (a fat $9.7 billion in AUD) in wholesale revenue from streaming services in 2018 – a $1.6 billion increase in the figure earned by the Big Three in 2017. For those who can’t be bothered doing the maths, those 2018 earnings equate to being about $19 million per day and more than $800,000 per hour, creating an absolutely mind blowing depiction of how much streaming has changed the music industry.
What’s even more crazy is that streaming revenue accounted for over 50% of all earnings posted by Warner, Sony and Universal last year, which amounted to around USD $13.15 billion collectively. In contrast, all three companies posted multi-million dollar declines in the sales of CDs and cassettes, with Sony in particular losing up to a quarter of a billion in the sale of physical formats. Interestingly, vinyl sales continue to be an outlier in the battle between physical and digital formats, however, their numbers are still too small to offset the wider losses posted in physical sales.
2018 also proved to be a massive year for Universal in particular, earning a record $3 billion in total music revenue throughout the year due to high-profile releases from global megastars such as Drake, Ariana Grande and Post Malone.
Revisit our column investigating the history of music streaming here.