Halftime Report for the US Music Industry [Spoiler: It’s Not Great]

Half of 2014 is in the bag.  How do things look for the music industry?  The New York Times reports:

For the music industry, the good news about this year’s sales is not quite enough to make up for all the bad news.

What’s good is the rapid growth of streaming media services like Spotify and YouTube, which let their customers listen to millions of songs online, often free. According to data from Nielsen SoundScan that was released on Thursday, listeners in the United States used such audio and video streaming services to listen to 70.3 billion songs in the first half of 2014, an increase of 42 percent from the first half of 2013.

But this growth appears to have come at the expense of traditional sales, with downloads now joining CDs as a format in decline. According to Nielsen, 120.9 million albums have been sold so far this year, down 14.9 percent from the first half of 2013. Of those albums, 62.9 million were on CD (down 19.6 percent) and 53.8 million were digital downloads (down 11.6 percent).

Looking at the raw numbers, we have this:

  • Total album sales (including digital, TEA & SEA): 227M (down from 235M)
  • Digital album sales (including TEA): 113.2 million (down 15.9M)
  • Stream equivalent albums: 1,500 to 1 SEA, 46.9M total (up from 24.8M)
  • Most streamed track: Katy Perry, “Dark Horse”
  • Most spins at radio: Pharrell, “Happy”
  • Market share: UMG, 38.1% – Sony, 27.9% – Warner, 18.8% – Indies, 14.3%
  • Largest genre: Rock, 34.7% of sales

TEA = Track Equivalent Album, where 10 downloaded tracks at one time are considered to be equal to a full album.

SEA = Stream Equivalent Album, which multiplies the number of streams at the current stream pay rate to equal the average blended wholesale revenue of $7.50. 

The full story at Billboard.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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