Stream­ing mu­sic ser­vices are go­ing full steam ahead

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST/TELEVISION - RAN­DALL ROBERTS

The mu­sic in­dus­try con­tin­ues to move head­long into a stream­ing fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen Mu­sic’s an­nual midyear re­port of lis­ten­ing habits.

The re­cently pub­lished re­port shows that mu­sic-stream­ing plat­forms such as Spo­tify, Ap­ple Mu­sic, Ti­dal and oth­ers de­liv­ered 184.3 bil­lion on-de­mand au­dio streams, up from 113.5 bil­lion dur­ing the same pe­riod a year ago, an in­crease of 62 per­cent.

Buoyed by the suc­cess of artists such as Drake, Fu­ture, Ed Sheeran and the re­lease of Tay­lor Swift’s back cat­a­log to ma­jor stream­ing plat­forms, the ser­vices sur­passed a mile­stone in March, when more than 7 bil­lion songs were ac­cessed.

But mu­sic stream­ing’s suc­cess came at a cost: to­tal al­bum sales (pur­chased down­loads and phys­i­cal al­bums) de­clined by 18 per­cent, which was has­tened by a 24 per­cent drop in dig­i­tal track sales and a 20 per­cent drop in dig­i­tal al­bum sales. That num­ber stands to rea­son: Why down­load a song when you can stream it for free on YouTube or as part of a plat­form subscription?

Among the win­ners in the first half of 2017 were Bri­tish pop sen­sa­tion Sheeran, Comp­ton-bred rap­per Ken­drick La­mar and Puerto Ri­can pop star Luis Fonsi. La­mar’s re­cent al­bum, Damn, was at the top of the to­tal al­bum con­sump­tion chart, which cal­cu­lates suc­cess based on a for­mula in­volv­ing sales and stream­ing num­bers.

Sheeran’s song “The Shape of You” has earned the most on-de­mand au­dio streams, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing 354 mil­lion so far this year. La­mar’s song “Hum­ble” fol­lowed with 345 mil­lion streams. Fonsi’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Justin Bieber and Daddy Yan­kee, “Des­pac­ito,” and Mi­gos’ “Bad and Bou­jee” also tal­lied huge num­bers.

Vinyl records were win­ners in the first half of the year. Ac­cord­ing to mu­sic track­ing com­pany Buz­zAn­gle, which also just re­leased its midyear re­port, sales of the resur­gent for­mat in­creased by 20 per­cent over 2016, and ac­counted for 4.9 per­cent of all phys­i­cal al­bum sales. CD sales dropped by nearly 4 per­cent.

Record fans couldn’t get enough of The Bea­tles, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen Mu­sic’s re­port. Their al­bum Sgt. Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the top seller, rack­ing up a rel­a­tively mea­ger 39,000 hard copies.

The sound­track to La La Land was sec­ond, with 33,000 copies sold. Also earn­ing sales in the cat­e­gory were the in­die pop band Tennis’ Yours Con­di­tion­ally, Prince’s Pur­ple Rain and Amy Wine­house’s Back to Black.

Other no­table cal­cu­la­tions from Buz­zAn­gle’s re­port in­cluded a break­down of which gen­res are most pop­u­lar across stream­ing plat­forms.

Hip-hop tracks con­sti­tute nearly 25 per­cent of all on-de­mand au­dio con­sump­tion, fol­lowed by pop (12.8 per­cent), R&B (9.3 per­cent) and coun­try (7.2 per­cent).

When fans lis­ten to al­bums, though, they con­tinue to look to the past for the ma­jor­ity of their mu­sic. Ac­cord­ing to Buz­zAn­gle’s re­port, 51 per­cent of streams in 2017 have been for old cat­a­log ti­tles, com­pared with 12 per­cent for new mu­sic.


Drake, pic­tured here in June at the NBA Awards, is the most pop­u­lar stream­ing artist in the United States to­day, with 3.7 bil­lion spins (in­clud­ing au­dio and video). Com­ing in sec­ond is Fu­ture (2.65 bil­lion), fol­lowed by Ken­drick La­mar (2.35 bil­lion).

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