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Nielsen H1 2017: Trends continue up for streaming, down for sales

Nielsen has published its mid-year report analyzing music consumption for the first six months of 2017. The report traced many of the same trends as other major industry organizations, including a continued rise in the performance for streaming while sales numbers keep declining.

Total audio consumption in the first six months of the year rose 8.9% to 235.5 million units over the same period of 2016. The total audio metric includes album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums. All on-demand streaming increased 36.4% to 284.7 billion streams. For audio only, consumption leapt up 62.4% to 184.3 billion streams in the first half of the year. Video on-demand has been progressing at a slower pace, rising just 5.4% over the previous first half to 100.3 billion streams.

Traditional sales continue to take a downward dive. The album and TEA sales dipped 19.9% to 112.6 million in the first six months. Physical albums posted 81.9 million sales for the period, down 18.3%. Digital album sales also fell 19.9% to 35.1 million and digital track sales dropped 24% to 307.1 million.

Nielsen’s equivalence rates are set at 10 tracks counting as one album, and 1,500 streams count as one album.

The mid-year report included a few other compelling statistics. First, weekly on-demand audio streams have surpassed 7.5 billion. Pop star Taylor Swift returned her catalog to all streaming services in June, and that led to a 551% increase in the number of Taylor Swift streams for that month. Based on album consumption, the top release for the year to date is Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., with a strong performance in streams and album sales. Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You is a top track for the period, topping the lists for digital song sales and audio/video on-demand streaming.

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Anna Washenko

One Comment

  1. It is funny to read the word “consumption” in relationship to digital music, which experiences no diminution of supply, no less music when heard. Quite literally, nothing is consumed at all when digital music is accessed.

    Why does this matter, this word? It matters because it is emblematic of thinking about music as a product, thinking it should behave according to the laws of controlled supply and perceived demand. Nothing could be further from reality or the truth.

    So we beat on, boats against the current. If you continue to think of music and media as products consumed, you are part of the past, ill-suited to understanding its present and future.

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