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RIAA Reports Hi-Res on the Rise

By Steve Harvey. Sound savvy listeners power increase in Hi-Res releases.

Washington, DC (May 7, 2019)—New figures released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reveal a 29 percent increase over one year ago in major label Studio Quality album releases in the U.S.

This is the first time that the RIAA has reported details of high-resolution album releases. The RIAA defines Studio Quality as encompassing both Hi-Res Audio (48 kHz/20-bit or higher) and a studio production format of 44.1 kHz/24-bit audio. The numbers were issued to coincide with a hi-res audio showcase at the 2019 MusicBiz Nashville conference, running May 5-7.

According to new data compiled by the RIAA from its members, major labels are now releasing about 1,000 albums per month in Studio Quality formats. Overall, there are now more than 33,500 albums representing nearly 400,000 tracks available to stream or download in the U.S. in Studio Quality formats.

Neil Young Readies Book on High-Res Streaming

According to the trade organization, 77 percent of its 100 highest Gold- and Platinum-certified albums are currently available in Studio Quality, as are 78 percent of SoundScan’s top 100 albums of 2018. Seventy-nine percent of one major unnamed streaming service’s top 100 all-time streamed tracks and 68 percent of one major streaming service’s top weekly tracks are similarly available for listening in better than CD quality.

The RIAA and its member companies, in cooperation with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing, launched a program in 2015 to enable music fans to more easily identify high-resolution digital music. By the end of that year, several hi-res music digital download retailers had agreed to adopt the RIAA’s Hi-Res Music logo licensing agreement. By May 2016, the program had expanded to include music streaming services such as Pandora, Rhapsody/Napster and HD Tracks.

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The RIAA’s annual report for 2018, released March 2019, revealed that recorded music revenue grew rapidly for the third year in a row, jumping 11.9 percent from 2017, for a total of $9.8 billion. Streaming contributed 75 percent — $7.4 billion — to the annual haul.