As streaming reaches flood stage, does it stimulate or depress music sales?

Luis Aguiar, Joel Waldfogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Streaming music services have exploded in popularity in the past few years, variously raising optimism and concern about their impacts on recorded music revenue. Even if streaming displace sales, it may still raise overall revenue if the streaming payment is large enough in relation to the extent of sales displacement. We make use of the growth streaming during the years 2013–2015 to measure their collective impact on unpaid consumption and on the sales of recorded music. We are unable to statistically distinguish the distinct impacts of these services, but we reject that their combined impact on sales is zero. We also find that streaming displaces music piracy. Given the current industry's revenue from track sales ($0.82 per sale) and the average payment received per stream between $1.51 and $2.77 per thousand streams or, on average, about $2.14 per thousand streams, our sales displacement estimates show that the losses from displaced sales are roughly outweighed by the gains in streaming revenue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-307
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Organization
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Copyright
  • Music industry
  • Music streaming


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