As streaming booms, listeners are consuming more music than ever – they’re just not buying it.
Billboard reports that 2016 is the worst year for album sales since the launch of Nielsen Music (fka SoundScan) in 1991.
In the past six months, album sales, in general, have totaled 100.3 million sales, just under half of which were CDs, which Billboard notes is a crumbling figure. Even “track-equivalent albums” (TEA) – the sale of 10 tracks qualifying as the sale of one album – are down 16.9%. Vinyl sales, however, have grown again and are up 11.4%, making up 6.2 million of the total sales.
Streaming is not hurting, however. Billboard writes: “Listeners streamed 208.9 billion songs (which translates to 139.2 million album units) between January and now, an increase of 58.7 percent. Of that 208.9 billion, 113.6 billion were audio-only, versus 95.3 billion video streams (defined as a music video view on YouTube, Vevo, Tidal and Apple Music – of which the latter two contribute a very small piece). It’s the first time audio has surpassed lower-paying video streams.”
With this combined data, album consumption is technically ascending, with TEA, stream-equivalent albums (SEA, or 1,500 streams equaling one sale) and overall sales putting album-listening, so to speak, up 8.9% in the first half of the year. Adele’s 25, Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Drake’s VIEWS – which is the highest-selling digital album of the year, so far – are the only million-selling albums in 2016, to date. David Bowie’s Blackstar is the highest selling vinyl release of the year.
It’s worth noting that while reports like this come to light, independent retailer Bandcamp has paid out artists $150 million in profit over the last eight years.