The music industry grew last year for the first time since 1998

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Physical and digital music sales

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a music industry trade group dating back to 1933, released its annual overview of the state of the business today—and the news is surprisingly good. In 2012, worldwide revenue growth from digital music outpaced the ongoing collapse of CDs, LPs, and other physical media, meaning that overall sales grew for the first time since 1998.

Revenue from digital music last year totaled $5.6 billion, while physical music brought in $9.4 billion.

According to the report, digital music has benefited most from the advent of subscription services, such as Sweden-based Spotify, that allow users to stream an unlimited number of songs for a fixed fee. Subscriptions to such services grew 44% in 2012 from the previous year. But musicians continue to complain that they see just fractions of a cent each time their songs are played.