The latest release of music sales figures by Nielsen and Billboard is surprising – digital song sales, which had been on an upward trajectory, seem to have taken a turn. Sales of albums and tracks, which grew 4% last year were down 4.6% for the same six month period.
At the same time, streaming volume is soaring, up 24% over last year, telling the full story behind the dip in digital song sales. The fact is, consumer attitudes toward ownership of music are changing. Streaming access to songs through services like Spotify are making it more attractive to subscribe to services to have access to the music you want to hear.
One of the remarkable things to note about this report is the wide disparity between the Top Ten Streamed Songs and the Top Ten Most Played Radio Songs. Seven of the songs on Radio’s top ten list are not on the Streaming top ten. So when folks are given the option to stream a song and hear whatever they want, they’re choosing a playlist that is 70% different than the one their favorite radio station is choosing for them.
There’s a lot of talk about research that shows that listening to broadcast is not being replaced by listening online. And that may be true. But it may also be true that there’s a new order driving the popularity of songs and artists, and broadcast radio would do well to recognize that.