Report: Music Streaming Grew 30 Percent in the U.S. Last Year

Posted on January 10, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, YouTube Music, Spotify, YouTube with 13 Comments

According to Neilsen, music streaming services grew 30 percent in the U.S. last year and hit one trillion streams for the first time.

I can’t find the original report, but it was covered by The Wall Street Journal, which notes that 82 percent of music consumption in the United States now comes from music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. Meanwhile, sales of physical albums fell 19 percent to just 9 percent of the market in 2019 in a blow to hipsters.

Neilsen says that rapper Post Malone was the top act of 2019, and Drake, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande rounded out the top five. The top three albums by stream and purchase were Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” Billie Eilish’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”, and Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” in that order.

Meanwhile, hip-hop was the top genre last year, with a 28 percent share, Neilsen claims. Rock landed at 20 percent, and pop came in third with 14 percent.

Rolling Stone, which uses a different set of data, separately claimed that CD sales and digital downloads “tanked” in 2019, while streaming’s growth started slowing last year. That makes sense, given its dominant share: At this point, virtually everyone who wants to stream music is likely doing so.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Report: Music Streaming Grew 30 Percent in the U.S. Last Year”

  1. Chris_Kez

    It’s Nielsen (i before e)

  2. Daekar

    Very interesting. I wonder how "consumption" compares to "revenue generated" given that a huge number of people listen to streaming for free. And how do they measure "consumption" of an album when they don't get to track how often you play it? It looks to me like they're playing fast and loose with statistics and easily-confused terms that aren't the same thing because "consumption" isn't the same thing as "sales" but they treat them like they are.

    For instance, if the streaming services grew 30% last year to reach 82% of the consumption market, that means they were already well over 60% of the market before that, at 63.07%. That's a decent jump, but they were already a significant majority of songs played if the industry assumptions about how often mp3s and physical album plays are correct. The change in physical album sales was almost immaterial, though. A decrease of 19% to 9% means that they were already only at 11.11% of sales at the beginning of the year. A downward trend, yes, but not devastating, especially to hipsters who revel in doing what others don't.

    Facts aside, I think we all see the writing on the wall. If you're planning on buying a CD for anything other than ripping to MP3s, you might want to grab it in the next year or two.

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to Daekar:

      Actual hard copy CDs, probably. Digital copies of same, very doubtful. Streaming gives you zero guarantee you'll ever hear all of an artists music. You'll only hear "radio" releases or those popularly sought after, meaning you'll like miss half or more of an artist's total discography. And there are those, like me, who prefer to listen to the entire project (or total discography) of an artist we like. No service provides music the way we want to consume it.

  3. mattbg

    Here's why physical album sales fell off for me: there is literally nowhere to buy one where I live and work anymore, and it made no sense to buy it off Amazon only to convert it to digital and put it into storage. So, if I care about the artist/album, I usually buy it digitally... and then end up listening to it on Spotify anyway for convenience.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to mattbg:

      Yeah, I used to love record shopping. As a kid, our mall had not one but TWO music stores! And two bookstores. What a world...

    • ivarh

      In reply to mattbg:

      After they stopped DRM'ing purchased music to smithereens I have bought my albums as digital downloads (for the stuff I want to own). Otherwise streaming is superior. It makes discovery heaps cheaper and you dont ha to listen to radio with shortened versions and crappy ads.

  4. bluvg

    MSN Music was way ahead of its time.

  5. glenn8878

    A good source of CDs is your public library. I haven't bought an album for years. I use Amazon Prime for included streaming without paying extra. Top hits are usually available on Prime without extra charge. Only the more popular older hits are not available without a subscription. I don't think I'm missing anything. Paying $6.99 or whatever per month really adds up.

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to glenn8878:

      We buy the music we want, we store it in our library and we use the means we have at our disposal to listen exclusively to that content. We're not going to "rent" music, we're not going to "sign it out" and we don't want to listen to music we didn't specifically choose.

  6. bluvg

    While streaming is a fantastic bargain for consumers, as it stands today, it has a regressive impact on the arts by greatly favoring only the very popular.

    There was an excellent interview of Vinnie Colauita (who has played with just about everyone; perhaps the most recorded drummer of recent times, and just a beast of a player) talking about this recently: https :// He essentially tells young musicians to stay out of the music business, at least from the standpoint of a career you can make a living doing.

  7. Rob_Wade

    Sadly, not a single company streams music the way we want to listen to it. So, my wife and I continue to use alternative methods to stream our music library. We don't care about what some company 'thinks' we want to listen to or should listen to. We don't care about what we historically listened to. We want only to listen to specific music that we choose, when we choose to listen. No commercials, no interruptions, no substitutions or suggestions. Nobody does this.