Friday, May 20, 2016

Music Biz 2016 report: Audio streaming continues to grow in the US

Nielsen's Bakula
By Emmanuel Legrand  

The ongoing rise of audio streaming consumption in the US in 2015 does not show signs of slowing down in 2016, according to new statistics unveiled by Nielsen in Nashville during the Music Biz 2016 convention (May 16-18).  

While overall on-demand weekly streaming volume has increased by 203% in just two years, the volume of on-demand streaming rose to 149.8 billion during the first 19 weeks of the year, up 61.7% from the same period on 2015.   Audio streaming was driving the growth and accounted for 53.3% of that volume at 79.8 billion streams, up 96.2% compared to the same period of 2015, while video streams reached 70 billion up 34.7%.

"Audio streaming share surpassed video in January and hasn't stopped growing," noted David Bakula, SVP, Product Leadership and Analytics for Music, at Nielsen. Taking into consideration all the various formats, Bakula said that the industry in the US was in transition but still healthy. Comparing the first 19 weeks of 2015 with the same period of 2015, Bakula noted that physical albums were down 9.9%, digital albums down 17.8% (combined down 13.5% at 75 million units) while digital tracks sales were down 23.7% at 303.6 million units. The overall volume was up 9% for the start of the year, with streaming growth offsetting sales.

Bakula noted that audio overtook video streaming in January of 2016 and has continuously been growing since while video streaming share has been in decline. Even more so, the growth radio of audio streaming has been accelerating. Video streaming has seen a major slowdown. At the start of 2015, video streaming was experiencing year on year growth rate of 100-120%, the rate has started to decline in October 2015 to 50-60% before dropping to 20% at the end of April 2016.

Asked why the growth has been so significant, Bakula commented that the arrival of Apple Music in the middle of 2015 has boosted the streaming market and that other service operators like Spotify seem to be enjoying growth too. "We already had a rising tide situation last year with streaming, and when YouTube or Apple came with a new product, the whole tide has risen," said Bakula.

The music genres that fared the best in audio streaming were country, rock, dance/electronic, hip hop/R&B and pop, while Latin and children music did better in video streaming. Some music genres such as rock, classical and jazz tend to have a share of streaming from catalogue above 80%. When it comes to the biggest genres in streaming, rock takes the lead (28% of total streaming consumption), hip hop/R&B is "super hot" according to Bakula with the release since the beginning of the year of new material from A-level artist such as Kanye West, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar (20.9% of total activity), pop (18%), and country (9.8%). It is interesting to note that Classical and Jazz have more or less the same share in streaming that they had in the physical world, with 1.5% each.

In 2016, so far there have been 6 songs that have sold over 1 million units when for the same period in 2015, there were 17. The best selling song in 2016 is Flo Rida's My House with 1.7 million sales, which would have only have earned the track a No.8 position at this point last year (when the top selling track was Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk! with 4.4 million sales. Bakula noted that the top 200 songs "are down 30% compared to the same period last year."

Bakula also shed some light on the ongoing rise of vinyl sales. During the first 19 weeks of 2016, Nielsen tracked 4.7 million vinyl album sales, up 11.5% compared to the same period of 2015, more than during the whole year of 2012. In 2006, 900,000 vinyls were sold and each year since has experienced a year-on-year growth culminating with 11.9 million sales in 2015. Similarly, the share of vinyl compared to total physical album sales grew from 1.8% in 2011 to 5.9% in 2014 and 9.0% in 2015. Since the start of 2016, the share has risen to 11.2%. The main genres sold on vinyl are rock (62%), R&B/hip hop (9%), pop (6%), dance/electronic (4%), jazz (3%), country (2%) and the rest (8%).

In 2015, the top vinyl sellers were Adele's 25 (115,500 units), Taylor Swift's 1989 (73,800), Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon (50,000), the Beatles' Abbey Road (49,800), Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue (49,000), Arctic Monkeys' AM (48,500), Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell (44,900), Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color (44,600), Hozier's eponymous album (43,100) and the soundtrack to Guardians Of The Galaxy (43,000). In the case of catalogue albums, vinyls represented from 50% to 70% of the total physical album sales.

[Typed while listening to Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline']

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