In a moment of clarity, Billboard admits that album sales don’t tell the whole story of record label revenues. According to Billboard, “there’s more to the story. Recorded music looks better when streaming gains are taken into account.” As I’ve been arguing for a while, record labels earn revenue from a number of sources well beyond album sales. So the recent decline of albums and tracks is rather irrelevant when considering industry profits.
Furthermore, even after streaming is added to music sales, there is a lot missing in the picture of total revenue.
“There were actually more streaming gains in 2014. Not included in the streams tracked by Nielsen Music are non-interactive digital services like Pandora and Sirius XM. This is a big chunk of money. The growth in Pandora’s royalties to rights holders in the 12 months ended September 30th is equivalent to about 16.3 million album sales.”
This gets at part of the issue. Yes, streaming is up. But also, there is more than meets the eye. Pandora and Sirius XM are huge sources of revenue for the major record labels. However, this says nothing about synchronization licenses in video games, movies, television and commercials. We could add publishing and everything the labels are taking through 360 deals, too.
The take away, there is more to this than album sales.