Streaming blows up, CDs slip again in 2017 Music Report

(January 4, 2018) People are listening to more music than ever. It’s just that they’re listening to it in ways not even imagined a few years ago. That’s among the conclusions of the 2017 Year-End Music Report that was just issued by Nielsen Music.

Music listening for the year was up by 12.5%, all driven by the dramatic increase in the amount of music being streamed on services like Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. It was, however, another bad year for CD sales (down 16%) and mp3 downloads (down 23%).  Vinyl LPs continue to be the “little engine that could,” increasing for the twelfth consecutive year, and reaching 14 million albums sold during 2017.

(January 4, 2018) People are listening to more music than ever. It’s just that they’re listening to it in ways not even imagined a few years ago. That’s among the conclusions of the 2017 Year-End Music Report that was just issued by Nielsen Music.

Music listening for the year was up by 12.5%, all driven by the dramatic increase in the amount of music being streamed on services like Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. It was, however, another bad year for CD sales (down 16%) and mp3 downloads (down 23%).  Vinyl LPs continue to be the “little engine that could,” increasing for the twelfth consecutive year, and reaching 14 million albums sold during 2017.

The category “R&B/Hip-Hop” was the top genre, with around ¼ of total volume, but it was really driven by the hip-hop side, with artists like Drake and Cardi B hitting huge streaming numbers. Adult soul artists were not among the noted leading artists, though occasional adult charters Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars had very good years. Finally, the generation gap grew clearer this year, as young listeners overwhelmingly used streaming services, and adult-focused genres like jazz, gospel and soul music had significantly higher percentages of CD sales and significantly lower streaming results.

One interesting side note was that, in the first two days following the streaming service release of Prince’s catalog, his music received 4.7 million on-demand audio streams.

So what does it all mean for the soul music world? Well, it again showed that, while soul music fans are throwing away their CDs at a rate slower than younger fans do, physical and mp3 sales slippage for all genres will continue. So, in order to avoid being left behind, soul music artists will need to embrace all avenues – physical sales, digital downloads, and audio and video streaming – over the next few years as their fans continue to migrate to new forms of music listening and discovery.

By Chris Rizik

 
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