Music streaming subscriptions boom in US, even as vinyl makes a comeback in Britain

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 11:25pm

Song streaming on subscription services more than doubled in the United States last year, even as sales of vinyl records continued to soar in the US and Britain, data showed Monday.

Analytical firm BuzzAngle Music said that consumption by the world’s largest music market rose 4.9 percent 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.

The 2016 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 upon by record labels.

US listeners streamed songs more than 191 billion times in 2016 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 that more US listeners were streaming songs on any given day in 2016 than paid for downloads over the whole year.

Album sales by download and CD both tumbled in 2016. One bright point was sales of vinyl albums which jumped nearly 26 per cent, although they still represented a sliver of the market.

In the UK, meanwhile, vinyl sales jumped to their highest level in 25 years.

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 the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Rock icon David Bowie was the highest-selling vinyl artist of 2016 in the UK, scoring five albums in the top 30 following his shock death last January.

British vinyl sales have grown for nine years in a row and now account for nearly five per cent of all albums sold, according to the BPI.

In the US, Canadian rapper Drake’s Views was by far the top album of 2016 when factoring in streaming, although British balladeer Adele’s 25 edged it out when looking only at direct sales.