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Streaming Crushes CDs and Downloads in First Half of 2016

by VVN Music

Many artists complain about the income from streaming, but it might be time to do some new business budgeting because, whether they like it or not, it is the way consumers are going to listen to music in the very near future.

New upstart organization BuzzAngle Music, who publishes daily sales and streaming charts, has put out a report on the music industry in the first half of the year and the results are quite eyeopening.

The industry, based on album sales plus song sales (10 downloads = 1 album unit) plus streams (1,500 streams = 1 album unit) is up by 6.5% for the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015 with 203 million-plus album units "sold" vs. 191 million last year.

It's the way they were consumed that is drastically and quickly changing.

  • Individual Album sales, in the form of CDs, Vinyl and full album downloads, are down 14% from 100 million to 86 million.
  • Individual Song Sales, mainly through download, are down even more, 24.2% from 541 million to 410 million. This is particularly notable as the trend, for a number of years, was for younger listeners were buying individual songs versus full albums. So where did they go?
  • On-Demand audio streams have more than doubled in just one year, up 107.8% from 55 billion (that's billion, not million as in the other categories) streams in the first half of 2015 to 114 billion from January through June this year. 
Breaking down the album sales further, only one category has grown, vinyl, and that is even at a much slower pace than in the past. So far, vinyl sales are up just 17.3% from 2.6 million to 3.1 million although BuzzAngle does admit that vinyl is being sold in many non-traditional stores and the actual total could be up to twice as much. Still, as much as we tout the "vinyl revolution", it is still a very small part of album sales overall. CDs account for 37 million units (down 11%). 

Only one veteran artist placed in BuzzAngle's top 25 albums of the year, so far, both by Prince. The Very Best of Prince is at 13 with 553 thousand in total sales equivalents while Purple Rain is at 16 with 533 thousand. The top three are Drake's Views (2.6 million), Beyonce's Lemonade (1.7 million) and Adele's 25 (1.6 million). 

On the singles side, Justin Timberlake is at 15 with Can't Stop the Feeling! with sales plus streams of 1.8 million. The top three for the first half of the year are One Dance by Drake with 3.4 million, Work by Rihanna with 3.3 million and 7 Years by Lukas Graham with 2.8 million. 

For pure physical album sales, Prince's Very Best of is number 5 with 553 thousand while David Bowie's Blackstar is 10th with 358 thousand. Blackstar tops vinyl album sales with 33,720 sold with Prince, Bob Marley, the Beatles, Radiohead and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack also making the top ten. 

You can see the entire report at BuzzAngle Music.