January 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm

U.S. Music Numbers: Streaming Up, Sales Down

2013 music sales streaming

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):
MUSIC STREAMS        2013                                         % CHG.

                                      118.1 Billion              +32%          

 

OVERALL MUSIC SALES                                               

(TRANSACTIONS: ALBUMS, SINGLES, MUSIC VIDEO, DIGITAL TRACKS–

IN MILLIONS)

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

UNITS SOLD

1,556

1,661

-6.3%

 

 

PHYSICAL MUSIC SALES

(INCLUDES CDS, CASSETTES, LPS – IN MILLIONS)

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

UNITS SOLD

172

198

-13%

 

 

DIGITAL TRACK SALES                                                  

(IN MILLIONS)

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

UNITS SOLD

1,259

1,336

-6%

 

 

OVERALL ALBUM SALES WITH TEA

(INCLUDES ALL ALBUMS & TRACK EQUIVALENT ALBUMS –

IN MILLIONS)

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

UNITS SOLD

415.3

450

-7.7%

NOTE: TRACK EQUIVALENT ALBUMS EQUATE RATIO OF 10 TRACKS TO 1 ALBUM

 

 

TOTAL ALBUM SALES

(INCLUDES CDS, CASSETTES, LPS, DIGITAL ALBUMS – IN MILLIONS)

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

UNITS SOLD

289.4

316

-8%

 

 

2013

2012

% CHG.
CD

165

193

-14%

DIGITAL                118             118          0%

LP/VINYL               6.1*             4.6       +33%

 

 
CURRENT VS. CATALOG SALES (IN MILLIONS)

 

   
OVERALL ALBUMS

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

CURRENT

152

161

-5.8%

CATALOG

138

155

   -11.1%

 

 

PHYSICAL ALBUMS

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

CURRENT

89

101

-11.3%

CATALOG

82

97

-15.5%

 

 

ALBUM SALES: GENRE BREAKDOWN

 
Format:Album

2012

2013

% Ch (YOY Units)

Alternative

16.8%

17.4%

-4.7%

Classic

2.4%

2.8%

4.9%

Country

14.2%

13.8%

-10.7%

Hard Music

10.1%

10.2%

-8.2%

Jazz

2.6%

2.3%

-18.6%

R&B

15.9%

17.5%

1.2%

Rap

7.8%

8.7%

2.2%

Soundtrack

4.0%

4.0%

-8.4%

Latin

3.1%

2.9%

-12.8%

Rock

33.9%

34.8%

-5.9%

Electronic

2.8%

3.0%

-0.3%

 

DIGITAL ALBUMS

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

CURRENT

62.3

60

+3.5%

CATALOG

55

57

-3.8%

 

 

DIGITAL TRACKS

 

2013

2012

% CHG.

CURRENT

594

603

-1.5%

CATALOG

666

733

-9.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 
     

 

DIGITAL TRACKS – GENRE BREAKDOWN

           Sales:                   % of Total:
TRACKS

2012

2013

% Change:

2012

2013

Total

1,335,881

1,259,786

-5.70%

BLUES

3,014

2,526

-16.20%

0.20%

0.20%

CHILDREN

4,675

4,021

-14.00%

0.30%

0.30%

CHRISTIAN/GOSP

34,354

32,813

-4.50%

2.60%

2.60%

CLASSICAL

7,041

5,945

-15.60%

(Photo: Flickr/makelessnoise)

  • Tom Green

    So overall, is this a bad trend when it comes to how much artists get paid? I tend to download an album (iTunes, Amazon, artists’ site, bandcamp) after liking something I’ve ‘previewed’ on Spotify, YouTube. The reason is because I ‘think’ artists will get more of the bottom line and that’s important to me. Maybe I’m totally wrong about that. Just a misconception?

  • http://evolver.fm Eliot Van Buskirk

    Two numbers are important in regards to that: how many people convert to on-demand streaming from downloads, and how many people pay for on-demand streaming. If the latter is a large enough ratio to the former, artists and labels should make more than ever, with positive implications for culture, I have argued: http://evolver.fm/2012/06/06/how-streaming-music-will-change-culture-for-the-better/ . As an individual, right now, you are putting more money in the pockets of your favorite bands if you buy their downloads, especially on BandCamp. However, if you pay $10 per month for an on-demand subscription, and wouldn’t otherwise spend that much on downloads every month, artists and labels make out better than if you were just buying something here and there.