In 2019, on-demand streams in the United States reached one trillion for the first time, according to a new year-end report from Alpha Data, the company formerly known as BuzzAngle. Meanwhile, growth across all music platforms, including streaming, continues to slow.
The data, released by Rolling Stone, shows that online streaming has risen overall album consumption up 13.5 percent from 2018-19 to 795.9 million albums, and overall song consumption went up 21.1 percent to 7 billion units in 2019. However, sales for CDs and digital downloads plummeted while streaming and vinyl began to decelerate in sales growth.
Despite its deceleration, streaming still carried the music industry in 2019. Streams accounted for 84.6 percent of album consumption in the United States, its biggest share to date. Album sales accounted for 11.7 percent of consumption, down from 17 percent in 2018, while singles dropped from seven to barely four percent of consumption.
Music streaming became the tour-de-force of the industry in 2016 when streams reached 432 billion and overtook all other platforms as the primary listening method in the United States. That trend continued into 2019, as streams grew to a record 1.01 trillion, up 24.8 percent from 2018. However those numbers, while historic, show that the streaming train is starting to lose momentum. Growth in on-demand streams fell nearly 30 percent from 2018, despite record-setting numbers. The growth of streaming from 2015-18 was simply not sustainable.
These numbers do not solely apply to music streaming either. This past year, Netflix recorded its first loss of subscribers in eight years, causing many investors to fear market saturation.
While physical album sales saw record-setting lows in 2019, solace can be found in the sustained growth of vinyl, which saw yet another year of double-digit growth. LP sales accounted for nearly 20 percent of all physical record sales, reporting growth up from 10.5 to 10.7 percent. Just like streaming, however, vinyl also saw a peak in 2015 in the form of a 53 percent increase in sales which has also proven to not be sustainable.
The top 10 albums by sales for vinyl for 2019 were:
- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish – 112,798 copies
- Abbey Road, The Beatles – 101,024 copies
- Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen – 78,600 copies
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, Various Artists – 69,924 copies
- Lover, Taylor Swift – 66,702 copies
- The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd – 64,018 copies
- Legend, Bob Marley & the Wailers – 62,325 copies
- Thriller, Michael Jackson – 59,553 copies
- Ultimate Sinatra, Frank Sinatra – 52,104 copies
- Back to Black, Amy Winehouse – 49,231 copies
The full Alpha Data report is available here.
[H/T Rolling Stone]