RIAA have revealed that for the first time ever music streaming is generating more revenue than digital downloads in the 5th year of industry of growth.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have released their 2015 end-of-year report showing that music streaming has become the biggest revenue generator in the music industry making 34.3% of US music industry revenue in 2015. The report also showed that 2015 was the first time streaming revenues have exceeded $2 billion with a 29% growth on last year to $2.4 billion, based on all streaming formats (subscription, freemium, and SoundExchange).

Whilst it’s only a 0.3% lead on downloads, with 34%, it marks a major increase on 2014 when music streaming accounted for 27% of US music revenues. This also marks the fifth year of market growth for the overall music industry with a 0.8% rise to $4.95 billion generated in 2015. This also shows that the rise in streaming is offsetting the current declines in sales for physical purchases and digital downloads.

Surprisingly ad-supported, free music streaming wasn’t the primary source of growth for music streaming and it was actually paid subscriptions that showed the biggest and fastest growth in 2015. This is probably largely thanks to the introduction of two new major, paid services last year – Apple Music and Tidal. The revenue growth for paid subscriptions was a phenomenal 52% to $1.2 billion. The number of paid subscriptions also saw an incredible increase of 40% throughout the year.

The stats for physical sales are a little bleaker with a 10% decrease, but that’s something to be expected in a world constantly moving towards digital. It’s not all bad news for physical music though as Vinyl continues to see a resurgence with a 32% increase in value last year to $416 million, the highest since 1988.

RIAA concluded their report, saying: “Overall, the data for 2015 shows a music industry that continues to adopt digital distribution platforms for the majority of its revenues. While overall revenue levels were only up slightly, large shifts continued to occur under the surface as streaming continued to increase its market share. In 2015, the industry had the most balanced revenue mix in recent history, with just about 1/3 of revenues coming from each of the major platform categories: streaming, permanent downloads, and physical sales.”