Nielsen Music has released its annual year-end report into the state of the music industry. It shows that 2016 saw an overall year-on-year volume growth of 3 percent, which was mostly thanks to on-demand audio streaming. And for the first time in history, streaming music services surpassed total digital sales.
On-demand audio was up 76 percent compared to 2015, when it surpassed 250 billion streams. The massive growth was enough to offset the decline in virtually all sales formats, particularly digital, which remains the most popular method of purchase but is still shrinking faster than physical sales.
There were a massive 431 billion songs streamed through audio and video sites in US throughout 2016. Audio-only streaming’s huge increase reflects the ever-growing number of subscribers and listeners to services such as Spotify and Apple Music. It made up 38 percent of total audio consumption last year, making it the most popular way of listening to music, according to the report.
“The music industry continues to grow at a healthy rate, and 2016 showed us that the landscape is evolving even more quickly than we have seen with other format shifts,” said David Bakula, SVP of Music Industry Insights. “Thanks to the rapid emergence of new technologies and channels for discovery and engagement, consumers are finding and listening to more music in new ways.”
While Rock remains the most popular genre when it comes to physical and digital album sales, streaming is dominated by artists from the R&B/Hip-Hop world. Canadian rapper and internet meme sensation Drake was the most-streamed artists by a large margin, with more than 5.4 billion streams. He also had the most digital song sales and the most heavily consumed album of the year – Views.
In July last year, BuzzAngle Music reported that audio streaming had become more popular than video for the first time in the US.