Streaming makes most of the US music industry's money now

If there were any doubts before, streaming is king now.

Revenue from streaming music accounted for the majority of US major record labels' sales for the first time ever last year, a music industry trade group said Thursday. Streaming vaulted over the one-time leader digital downloads, which declined faster than any previous year.

The data underscores the meteoric popularity of streaming tunes, which  a year earlier barely eked past downloads to hold a roughly equal share  of the US sales market.

In the last five years, consumers have  quickly migrated from buying music outright to services where they pay  all-you-can-eat subscriptions or listen free by sitting through  advertising. The shift caused an outcry among some labels and artists, but opponents have lowered their volume more recently as the rise of streaming also spurred some of the industry's best sales growth in years.

But even as streaming has boosted the industry to some of its best  growth in the 21st century, relatively low sales from ad-supported  streaming have become the latest bone of contention among labels and  artists.

"It makes no sense that it takes a thousand  on-demand streams of a song for creators to earn $1 on YouTube, while  services like Apple and Spotify pay creators $7 or more for those same  streams," Cary Sherman, the chairman and the CEO of the Recording  Industry Association of America,  said in a blog post Thursday. "A platform like YouTube wrongly exploits legal loopholes to pay creators at rates well below the true value of music."

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