There have been many signs over the years that the music business has changed from one where people buy music to one where they only rent it, but Warner has just become the first major music label to cross that line. Recode reports that streaming now earns the company more money than music sales.


The company announced that money from services like Spotify and Apple Music was the single biggest source of recorded music revenue in the first quarter of the year, surpassing both phyiscal sales and sales of digital downloads. That’s the first time any of the big music labels has hit that inflection point.

The company revealed that revenue from physical sales fell by $6M, downloads were down by $17M but streaming was up by a massive $72M for the quarter.

Warner had already seen streaming revenue exceed that from downloads a full year ago, but the additional income from physical media meant that sales were still delivering greater revenue. That has now changed.

Apple Music and its 13M subscribers will have played a significant part in that switch, with even more likely through the half-price student deal revealed today.

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