Nielsen and Billboard released their sales numbers for 2013 this week. Some might be surprised to hear that sales of digital songs in iTunes, Amazon, and other download stores dropped from 2012 to 2013. Isn’t the music industry supposed to be going digital?
Yes, but downloads are not the future.
On-demand streaming music are replacing sales, as they are meant to. These on-demand services that let you play any song whenever you want (not to be confused with Pandora and other internet radio services) played 32 percent more music than they did in the previous year.
“Despite shifts in how music is consumed, we see continued growth in overall music consumption,” said Nielsen Entertainment senior vice president of industry insights David Bakula in a statement. “With more than 118 billion streams in 2013 reported by our data providers, which is the approximate revenue equivalent of 59 million albums purchased, the industry remains vibrant as consumption continues to change and expand. 2013 was also great year for creative album release events.”
Streaming was up 32 percent over the previous year, to 118.1 billion track streams. Nielsen and Billboard looked at AOL, Cricket, Medianet (which provides music to additional services), Rdio, Spotify, YouTube/Vevo, and Zune.
Overall sales dropped 6.3 percent to about 1.5 billion tracks, albums, and videos. One might expect that, as more people make the switch from CDs to digital music. However, digital music sales dropped too, by 6 percent — about the same rate.
These numbers indicate that streaming/caching, and not downloading, is the future of music collecting.
There’s good news for newer artists. The only kind of digital sale that increased was albums by current artists (3.5 percent). In terms of the sales drops, catalog sales (of older artists) dropped more severely than sales of more recent music (see below).
There was one more isolated ray of sunlight for sales. In their announcement, Nielsen and Billboard called out album blockbuster stat, noting, “For 2013, more albums exceeded a million unit sales than in 2012 (13 in 2013 vs. 10 in 2012). Album sales including Track Equivalent Albums (Albums + TEA) also had more million-sellers in 2013 over 2012 (24 in 2013 vs. 22 in 2012).”
So, where albums are concerned, we are seeing a slight uptick in the number of blockbusters.
Finally, and appropriately, vinyl album sales were up by… 33 percent.
Here are the full stats (please pardon the formatting):
OVERALL MUSIC STREAMS
(INCLUDES DATA FROM AOL, CRICKET, MEDIANET, RDIO, RHAPSODY, SLACKER, SPOTIFY, YOUTUBE/VEVO, ZUNE – IN BILLIONS)
Streaming is up 32 percent.
And here’s the raw deal (pardon the formatting):
OVERALL MUSIC SALES
(TRANSACTIONS: ALBUMS, SINGLES, MUSIC VIDEO, DIGITAL TRACKS–
PHYSICAL MUSIC SALES
(INCLUDES CDS, CASSETTES, LPS – IN MILLIONS)
DIGITAL TRACK SALES
OVERALL ALBUM SALES WITH TEA
(INCLUDES ALL ALBUMS & TRACK EQUIVALENT ALBUMS –
NOTE: TRACK EQUIVALENT ALBUMS EQUATE RATIO OF 10 TRACKS TO 1 ALBUM
TOTAL ALBUM SALES
(INCLUDES CDS, CASSETTES, LPS, DIGITAL ALBUMS – IN MILLIONS)
DIGITAL 118 118 0%
LP/VINYL 6.1* 4.6 +33%
|CURRENT VS. CATALOG SALES (IN MILLIONS)
ALBUM SALES: GENRE BREAKDOWN
|DIGITAL TRACKS – GENRE BREAKDOWN