Album Sales Drop to Historic Lows, But Streaming is at All-Time High

Album Sales Drop to Historic Lows, But Streaming is at All-Time High

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With a rise in the popularity of streaming, it appears that the music industry is in a bit of a transitional phase. According to Billboard, album sales (and in particular, within the United States) for the first six months of 2016 were at a historic low, dropping 13.6% from the same time last year to 100.3 million. This is the lowest it’s been since SoundScan (now known as Nielsen Music) started tracking in 1991.

Streaming, though, is steadily on the rise, jumping 58.7% to 208.9 billion songs since the same time period in 2015.

New album releases seem to have been most affected by the crumbling industry, dropping 20.2% to 44.1 million units. Drake’s Views, Adele’s 27, and Beyonce’s Lemonade are the only three albums thus far to have sold over a million copies.

Conversely, this year’s top-selling vinyl is David Bowie’s Blackstar, with roughly 57,000 copies sold thus far. Vinyl sales seem to be the only number that sees growth year-to-year, having grown 11.4% to 6.2 million copies sold from the same time period last year. CD sales dropped 11.6% to 40 million, and digital album sales dropped 18% to 43.8 million.

Flo Rida’s “My House” is the best-selling song of the year, with 1.95 million track sales and is just one of 16 total songs to sell over a million thus far, with track sales dropping to 404.3 million units from 531.6 million units. According to Billboard, 27 songs had hit that mark around the same time last year.

Unsurprisingly, digital retailers are the most common place for people to purchase music, capturing roughly 43.7% of the market.

Finally, Billboard estimates a 8.9% increase in total U.S. revenue at $1.98 billion so far this year from $1.82 billion last year. However, some indie labels dispute the rate used to estimate the revenue generated by streaming ($0.0063 per song)—a central part of the revenue estimate—as too high.

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