Good showing for music last year, thanks to streaming

Views by Drake (above) was the top album of last year when factoring in streaming, but when looking only at direct sales, 25 by Adele edged it out.
Views by Drake (above) was the top album of last year when factoring in streaming, but when looking only at direct sales, 25 by Adele edged it out.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Views by Drake was the top album of last year when factoring in streaming, but when looking only at direct sales, 25 by Adele (above) edged it out.
Views by Drake was the top album of last year when factoring in streaming, but when looking only at direct sales, 25 by Adele (above) edged it out.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Song streaming on subscription services more than doubled in the United States last year, bringing solid growth to the music industry despite sagging album sales, data showed on Monday.

Analytical firm BuzzAngle Music said consumption by the world's largest music market rose 4.9 per cent last year, led by a surge of streams of individual tracks.

Streaming services, which offer unlimited on-demand music online, have grown rapidly in recent years and brought new growth to a long-stagnant industry.

Last year's data offered additional good news for the industry - more people are paying to subscribe to services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, rather than choosing advertising- backed platforms such as Spotify's free tier that are frowned by record labels.

US listeners streamed songs more than 191 billion times last year through subscription services, growing an impressive 124.3 per cent from a year earlier.

More than 76 per cent of audio streams last year were through subscriptions, well up from 62 per cent a year earlier.

In a sign of the rapid transformation of the industry, BuzzAngle Music said more US listeners were streaming songs on any given day last year than paying for downloads over the whole year.

Album sales by download and CD tumbled last year .

One bright point was sales of vinyl albums, which jumped almost 26 per cent, although they still represented a sliver of the market.

Canadian rapper Drake's Views was by far the top album of last year when factoring in streaming, although British balladeer Adele's 25 edged it out when looking only at direct sales.

The music industry has largely embraced streaming and forecasts robust future growth.

Some artists are less enthusiastic, however, saying streaming proceeds cannot ensure sustainable livelihoods except for top stars.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the revival of vinyl records continued last year with sales jumping to their highest level in 25 years, according to figures released yesterday.

Music fans bought more than 3.2 million LPs last year, a rise of 53 per cent on 2015 and the highest figure since 1991, said trade association British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Rock icon David Bowie was the highest-selling vinyl artist of last year, scoring five albums in the top 30 following his shock death in January last year.

Bowie's Blackstar, released two days before his death, was the top-selling vinyl album of the year.

Vinyl sales have grown for nine years in a row and now account for almost 5 per cent of all albums sold, according to the BPI.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Good showing for music last year, thanks to streaming'. Print Edition | Subscribe