London: Online streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have become the music industry’s single biggest revenue source, overtaking physical sales and digital downloads for the first time, a global industry body said on Tuesday.

The rapid growth in streaming music services has led to a recovery in fortunes of the global recorded music industry, which enjoyed its third year of positive revenue growth, according to a report by industry trade group IFPI. By 2014, music sales had fallen by 40% to $14.3 billion in the 15 years since 1999, when the rise of music file-sharing service Napster ravaged sales of CDs and the development of download services like Apple iTunes failed to offset declines.

Last year, subscription-based streaming revenue accounted for 38% of all recorded music, up from 29% the year before, IFPI said.

IFPI’s Global Music Report 2018 shows revenues for 2017 at $17.3 billion, with an increase of 8.1% from the previous year.

Industry leaders say the rise of music streaming is enabling the market to reach new regions, while helping weaning a generation of music fans away from free or pirated music. “We estimate only half the world’s population lives in a thriving music environment and we want to bring the streaming revolution to all of it," Stu Bergen, from Warner Music Group, said. Reuters