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Nielsen figures confirm increased importance of streaming market in US

By | Published on Monday 7 July 2014

Nielsen SoundScan

So, top-level stats for the American record industry revealed by stat-maker Nielsen last week played to the download-to-streaming narrative, with a little bit of vinyl revival thrown in for good measure.

As previously reported, while the growth figures for the streaming market have been particularly impressive in recent years, in most markets download income – which still accounts for the majority of digital revenue overall – has continued to grow. However, there remains concern that as streaming goes mainstream it will force iTunes-style income into decline, and those concerns are highest in the biggest recorded music market of them all, the US, where the download market seems to have already peaked.

And the Nielsen stats show that album sales in the US were down for the first half of this year compared to 2013, both overall, and just in the digital space. And while the rise in streaming is more than compensating for the decline in download sales, it’s not big enough to also completely compensate for the continued decline in CD sales too. Which will likely mean a revenue slide overall, in the US at least.

Either way, the stats again prove the ever increasing importance of both the subscription and ad-funded streaming markets, both of which saw rises of over a third in the first half of this year in the American market.

Nielsen’s David Bakula told reporters: “With on-demand streams surpassing 70 billion songs in the first six months of 2014, streaming continues to be an increasingly significant portion of the music industry. Streaming’s 42% year-over-year growth and vinyl LPs’ 40% increase over last year’s record-setting pace shows interest in buying and consuming music continues to be robust, with two very distinct segments of the industry expanding substantially”.