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Music Industry at Mid-Year Mark: Drake, Ed Sheeran Rule as Streams and Subscriptions Explode; Sales Still Slipping

As 2017 hits the mid-year mark, BuzzAngle has released a new report on the state of the music industry. Among the highlights: audio streams are way up — 58.5% — reaching 179.8 billion streams year to date, when compared to 2016 numbers. Of that, subscription streams grew 69.3% and now account for 78.6% of total audio streams so far in 2017, a 5% uptick over 2016.

The big winners among artists who released new music: Drake, who tops BuzzAngle’s “Total Consumption” tally with the year’s most streamed album, “More Life”; and Ed Sheeran, whose latest, “Divide,” came in at No. 1 on the “Albums By Sales” chart, while its lead single, “Shape of You,” topped the “Songs By Sales category. Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” was the most-streamed song, registering 711 million streams, more than half of which were video streams.

Overall music consumption, which the company monitors, saw a rise of nearly 10%, yielding 293 million project units in 2017, versus 266.6 million album project units during this time period in 2016. Of that, song consumption was up 29.5%, equaling 1.5 billion song project units in 2017.

The vinyl market continued to see growth, as vinyl album sales were up 20.4% over 2016. Vinyl albums accounted for 4.9% of all physical album sales, up from 3.5% in 2016, with the biggest sales bump, not surprisingly, impacted by Record Store Day, which took place on April 22 this year. Per the report: vinyl sales at independent music stores were up 14% when compared to RSD 2016.

As for the not-so-good news: CD album sales were down 3.9% while overall album sales declined 13.9% compared to 2016, suggesting that music listeners continue to consume songs individually and are less inclined to dive into the ten or more tracks that make up an album. The proof may lie in digital album sales, which were down 24.3% over the previous year, but still accounted for 46.6% of all album sales in 2017 (down from 53.0% in 2016).

Song sales, aka downloads, also saw a drop-off of nearly a quarter — down 23.8% compared to 2016.

Physical album sales were down 2.1% (39.6 million in 2017), but accounted for 53.4% of all album sales in 2017, up from 46.9% a year earlier.

Perhaps most telling in the BuzzAngle report is that the goal post for on-demand streams has moved yet again. In 2016, the industry had not yet seen a a single week reach 10 billion on-demand streams. So far in 2017, total on-demand streams have been averaging 10.8 billion per week, with the seven days following April 21 2017 logging 11.8 billion streams.

Also worth noting: while hip-hop is far and away the most consumed genre when it comes to albums, songs, and streams, World music saw sizable growth in song consumption, up 124% over the previous year.

BuzzAngle is owned by New York-based Border City Media and specializes in business analysis. Read or download the full report here.

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