Bridge Ratings study correlates song streams and download sales

Bridge Ratings issued a correlation study that sought to understand the relationship between a song’s streaming success, and that song’s digital download sales. Bridge discovered that a correlation does exist, all the more for the biggest hits.

“The correlation between on-demand streaming and the growth of digital sales for a particular song seems to be high,” according to Dave Van Dyke, President of Bridge Ratings, who spoke to RAIN News by phone. “There was a broad scope across different types of music, from pop to country to classical. The correlation improves over time — the higher the stream numbers as weeks go by, the higher the increase in sales.”

A client record label (anonymous in the study) provided streaming metrics of its songs, Van Dyke told RAIN, and download sales information came from Nielsen.

The chart below shows correlation percentages. The blue line is general correlation across many levels of song success, and the red line shows the higher correlation for what Dave Van Dyke called “top-10 hits.”

bridge ratings streaming-sales chart 01 638w

There is another component to this Bridge study — the relationship between on-demand streaming and radio programming. For this part, Bridge used radio airplay data from BBS and Mediabase, correlating it with the on-demand streaming popularity of songs, and making a year-over-year comparison. The result is increased correlation between the amount of airplay a song receives and its streaming rank.

We asked Dave Van Dyke whether this means that radio programmers are increasingly influenced by how music is breaking in the streaming services, and he backed away from that assumption. “We cannot read their minds,” he said, noting that the data shows only a correlation, not the cause of it.

Brad Hill