News 23 March 2022

Australian recording industry hits 15-year high

ARIA 2021 sales data reveals third consecutive year of growth.

Australian recording industry hits 15-year high

The Australian recorded music industry hit a 15-year high in calendar 2021, with wholesale sales posting a third consecutive year of growth and reaching their highest level since 2006. 

New figures released today by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) reveal wholesales sales of $565.8 million in 2021, up 4.4% from $542 million in 2020 and up 20.7% from $468.7 million in 2017. 

The strong growth posted in recent years reflects the rise of streaming, which accounted for 86% of music sales in Australia last year. 

Total digital sales reached $509.7 million in 2021 (90% of all sales), compared with $368.1 million in 2017. Over the same period, physical music sales dropped from $100.5 million to $56.1 million.

A decade ago, digital accounted for less than 40% of music sales in Australia. 

ARIA Chief Executive Officer, Annabelle Herd, said: “It is fantastic to see continued growth in the Australian recording industry, which remains a top 10 market globally. This speaks to the growing value of the sector as a serious economic contributor, but also underscores the fact that music continues to be part of the fabric of Australian lives. 

“Continued, solid growth in digital figures year on year is exciting, even as Australians turned to digital music much earlier than many of our global counterparts. I hope this news spurs on our brilliant home-grown artists as they move toward a more regular year of touring and reconnecting with fans across the country.”

The star performers last year were video streaming, which grew 26.5% to $55 million, ad-supported streaming models (up 31% to $52.6 million) and physical singles (up 241.6% to just under $200,000). 

Subscription streaming services revenue rose 4.1% during 2021 to $377.3 million, or 66.9% of total industry wholesale sales.

Vinyl albums were the biggest segment in physical sales, at $29.7 million, compared with $24.9 million for CD albums. In 2020, CD album sales were slightly higher than vinyl album sales.  

“The vinyl market is an increasingly important player as our market evolves, affording music fans across generations the opportunity to add classics to their collection, but also for fans of new music to have a greater sense of connection and ownership toward recordings they love. It is in important sector for independent artists, DJs and emerging subcultures that deserves serious recognition.”