In a nod to the increasing share of music that is getting listened to via streaming platforms, Billboard has added a Streaming Songs Chart to its weekly listings. Last spring Billboard started charting top songs played by On Demand services, this list will cover those and add the songs played most by streaming services. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis holds the top spot on Streaming Songs with 1.45 million total streams in the U.S. Services included in the reporting are “such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio, MySpace, Xbox Music and Guvera.”
The data comes from Nielsen Soundscan and Nielsen BDS data – Nielsen SoundScan measures U.S. point-of-sale of recorded music product. Nielsen BDS tracks U.S. radio airplay and music streams. Both systems power many of the Billboard charts. Nielsen recently reported that music purchases are at an all time high, up 3.1% over last year, driven by digital sales. For 2012, sales of albums and track equivalents are down slightly at -1.8% vs. 2011. Digital Albums are up 14% and Digital Tracks are up 5%. CD sales declined 13%.
Pandora meanwhile has posted a recap of sorts of last year on its blog, noting that last year listeners to Pandora created 1.6 billion stations and listened to more than a million different songs by 100,000 different artists. I’m thinking that data is probably at least as deep in terms of sample size as the stuff Nielsen is collecting…
For the first time, digital music sales are larger than physical sales; accounting for 50.3% of all music purchases in 2011. Digital track sales set a new record with 1.27 billion sales in 2011; an increase of 100 million sales (8.4%) over 2010. Total digital album growth was 20% in 2011 as well, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
Adele had the top selling digital song, but Lady Gaga was the most streamed artist with more than 135 million streams while “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj was the most streamed songs with nearly 85 million streams (according to Nielsen BDS).
Meanwhile SoundExchange reported that they distributed a record amount of money to artists during the 4th quarter of last year – $89.5 million with more than 18,000 payments, bringing year-end estimated royalty payments to $292 million (up 17 percent from the prior year). The royalties are paid by Internet radio, satellite radio and cable TV music-only channels for their use of sound recordings, and are distributed by SoundExchange to recording artists, record labels, and a non-featured artist fund.
The upward trends in both digital song and album sales and in streaming consumption and compensation are all evidence of a healthy online listening marketplace, something we can all be happy about.
2011 is turning out to be a good year for the record industry, which is seeing growth year over year sales for the first time since 2004. Digital album sales are leading the way in terms of growth – they’re up 19% over 2010. Digital track sales are up 11%. Overall music sales are up 8.5% to $821 million.
In early July Eminem‘s Recovery became the first digital album to sell more than a million units, with Adele‘s 21 not far behind. Earlier in the year the Black Eyed Peas made themselves the first to sell more than 7 million digital song downloads of I Gotta Feeling.
Nielsen Entertainment recently expanded its coverage of music streaming measurement, adding several key streaming platforms to its streaming panel. Newly added services include Vevo, Slacker, MOG, Thumbplay, Akoo, and Cricket. Data from these services, and from the existing reporting panel consisting of AOL, Napster, Rhapsody, Verizon Wireless and Yahoo! will appear in Nielsen’s BDS reports.
Nielsen Entertainment produces reports on lots of activity related to the music industry – Nielsen BDS monitors music played on radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico. Nielsen SoundScan reports on physical and digital song sales. They provide lots of insight into things like what songs people listen to and buy, which it sells to radio programmers, record companies, etc. Sources like Billboard produce their reports from this data.
During the first six weeks of 2011, Nielsen tracked more than 1.1 billion music streams through online music streaming services. More than 165 million streams per week are captured and nearly 26 million weekly song downloads are tracked. That is a lot of streaming music activity.
According to their press release, Nielsen is the only company able to provide weekly trending information on streaming activity, as well as a more granular understanding of from where consumers stream music. Nielsen also provides insights on the type of streams; on-demand streams, those songs/videos that consumers choose to listen to, versus programmed streams, or when songs are not chosen by the consumer.
As music streaming activity and digital downloads increase while physical song sales sink, streaming’s importance is growing as an important measure of who is listening to what. I expect we’ll see the list of streaming music platforms in their panel to continue to grow.
Digital song sales for the first half of the year were off very slightly (.2%) from the same period last year, indicating that the price increase from 99 cents to $1.29 on iTunes did have some negative impact on the number of tracks sold.
Meanwhile, full album sales were down as well – 11% to 154 million from 172.9 million units in the corresponding period last year. But digital album sales actually rose nearly 13% during the same period, offset by the continued decline of physical cd album sales which were down 18%. Last year album sales dropped 8.5% but digital album sales rose by 16%.
Lady Antebellum had the best selling album for the first half of the year.
So what does all of this mean? It appears that the negative impact from the 30% price increase on iTunes was minimal. It also looks like record labels and artists may have found a formula for increasing album sales – some combination of pricing, marketing and artistry that is convincing more and more people to purchase albums rather than single songs.