[This is my weekly music column for GlobalNews.ca – AC]
Back in December, Canadians quietly passed a musical milestone. For the first time ever, we listened to more than a billion music streams over the course of a week via the various services: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Tidal et al.
That weekly number can only continue to grow as people choose access to music over possession. (On Dec. 15, 2017, exactly 1,383,099,642 streams were served in the U.S. That’s more than four on-demand streams for every person in America.)
The latest figures from Nielsen Music Canada show year-over-year streaming growth up by 51.6 per cent. Meanwhile, the total number of albums sold (i.e. CDs and digital albums) is 25.5 per cent lower, with CDs bearing most of the responsibility for that fall (-31 per cent). Downloads of individual tracks from sources like iTunes have similarly cratered, down 20 per cent.
The only bright spot in terms of old media is the continuing renaissance in vinyl, which is up a staggering 52 per cent over 2017. (That figure, by the way, is only for sales of new vinyl records. It doesn’t take into account all the used product sold and traded in record shops, online and at record shows.)
Even though none of the streaming music services are profitable yet — they’re burdened by some very difficult licensing requirements — they represent the future. Five years from now, streaming will be our go-to source for music.
With that in mind, I’ve collected some stats and facts about how streaming has changed things for fans and the music industry.