For years, music fans have lamented how the internet is killing the music industry, but new statistics have completely changed the conversation.

After spending 15 years in decline, New Zealand's music industry just recorded back-to-back years of major growth, according to wholesale figures released by Recorded Music New Zealand today.

Last year, total revenues for the local music industry increased by 16 per cent to $86.1 million - a further improvement on the 12 per cent growth in 2015.

And topping the list of reasons why is streaming, which continues its rise as the number one medium for music consumption in New Zealand, generating half of the industry's total revenues.


The rest of the revenue is made up by 13 per cent digital downloads ($11m), 21 per cent physical sales ($17.7m) and 16 percent public performance and broadcast revenues ($14.2m).

By comparison, streaming generated more than $40m in 2016 and Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan says the medium has "thrived" and revitalised the industry.

However, concerns for actual artists still remain.

In an interview with the Herald in 2015, Jeremy Toy from Kiwi band She's So Rad revealed they'd had 90,000 streams on Spotify in one month and around 80,000 on SoundCloud, but it amounted to little more than $130 in projected revenue.

Kiwi artist Anthonie Tonnon added, "all of these [revenue] equations, at this point, they only work if you're being played a lot, millions of plays".

Anthonie Tonnon attending the APRA Silver Scroll Awards, 2015. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Anthonie Tonnon attending the APRA Silver Scroll Awards, 2015. Photo / Dean Purcell.

"The thing about these services, is that they can be useful to some, and you can use them to make money from your music, but it's so specific to your individual position and your kind of music. You need big numbers," he said.

RMNZ's Vaughan says there's no way to tell exactly how much money from streaming revenue makes it back to an artist's pocket as there are individual artist deals, label deals and streaming service deals to take into account.

But, he says, the growth in streaming revenue means "naturally, as a result of that, artists will be doing better than they have been in previous years".

And while that's a blow for physical music, which continues its ongoing decline, Vaughan says there's still hope yet, as vinyl continues to grow in popularity.

Vinyl sales contributed 14 per cent of all physical sales in 2016 and its revenue has grown from $1.6m to $2.5m from 2015 to 2016.

"We're looking forward to building on this momentum," Vaughan says.

"In 2016 we had a record eight number-one Kiwi albums and a growing number of artists making their impact throughout the world. It is truly an exciting time for our industry and 2017 will be another outstanding year for New Zealand music".