The U.S. Music Industry Just Had its Best Year Since 1998

The U.S. music industry has been crying poor for some time, arguing that YouTube and other ad-supported streaming services don’t pay enough money in licensing fees for the music they use. But that message may be harder to sell now.

In 2016, the record industry had its best year in nearly two decades, the Record Industry Association of America said on Thursday. Total U.S. retail sales from recorded music rose 11.4% last year, to $7.7 billion, the biggest gain since 1998.

The bulk of that growth came from streaming services, which have overtaken sales of compact discs and other physical products. For the first time, streaming provided more than 50% of the industry’s annual revenues, the RIAA said.

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