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Nielsen: Album sales deteriorate in Q1, streaming grows apace

nielsen canvasThis morning Billboard reported Nielsen SoundScan‘s sales and streaming numbers for the first quarter. Billboard’s summary of downloads vs. streams: “The decline in download sales accelerated in the first quarter to nearly match historic drops in CD sales from 2007-2010.”

The headline bullet point is that the sale of digital tracks was down 12.5% in Q1. downloaded albums suffered more: 14.2% down. (Nielsen also computes Track Equivalent Albums, whereby 10 track downloads equals one album sale, and is combined with normal albums. That calculation is painful too, down 13.3%.)

At the same time, streaming is up, increasing 14% year-over-year, from 25-billion streams to 34-billion. This is interactive streaming only, which includes on-demand services like Rhapsody, Spotify, Rdio, and others. The figures do not include non-interactive services like Pandora and iTunes Radio.

There is revenue-per-stream data also, indicating a 33% rise in the revenue value of a stream. ($o.oo5 vs. $0.00375 a year before.) That information comes from label executives, as reported in Billboard. That leads to Billboard’s computation of how many streams it takes to replace an album sale (Streaming Equivalent Albums). The conclusion is that the increase in streaming revenue is outpacing the decrease in download sales, which is good news for labels.

Brad Hill

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