How fast are sales of digital downloads declining? Let’s go to the chart.

Once upon a time, the music industry told us that gains in the sales of digital music would more than make up for the decline of physical product like CDs, which were bound to go down.

They were half right. CD sales continue to crater–but in the era of streaming, digital music sales are in an even worse state. Take a look at this chart from Statista.

While I’m a big fan of streaming, I can’t ever see me stop purchasing music, either physical (CDs and vinyl) or digital. Sometimes, you just want to own, you know?

On a related note, here are some of the best sites that sell MP3s.

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.

4 thoughts on “How fast are sales of digital downloads declining? Let’s go to the chart.

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  • April 3, 2018 at 3:54 pm
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    obviously the principle reason for the decline is the widespread acceptance of streaming services, but there is also a likely effect from people who were building up a collection of past releases digitally and now are only buying new releases once they have all the past releases they wanted

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  • April 3, 2018 at 7:38 pm
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    The numbers released are tricky. You need to dig deeper. — If you include the sale of albums the the total of ALL SINGLES sold is 2,826,200,000. — And when you compare dollars spent on consumable music…. Sales of downloads + physical formats (Downloads + CD’s + LP’s) vs. spend on streaming subscriptions… then subscriptions are only 17% of total consumer dollars spent on music. [RIAA 2016 numbers]. — Most streaming is really just RADIO. And, most of the numbers in the streaming calculations that make streaming look BIG are advertising revenues. But, all streaming services still loose tons of money!

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