Music News

YouTube is No Longer the King of Streaming. Meanwhile, Paid Downloads Continue to Crash.

The mantra used to be “When it comes to streaming, YouTube is the biggest in the world. No one even comes close.” Well, not so fast.

According to Music Business Worldwide, on-demand music streams on digital video platforms (i.e. YouTube, Vevo, etc.) increased by 23% in the first six months of 2016. Meanwhile, on-demand audio/music platforms saw growth of 108%. This is enough to make platforms like Spotify and Apple Music the dominant streamers for the first time. This chart featuring US streaming numbers from BuzzAngle says it all.

Video v Audio streams 2016


And there’s more. Not only has streaming grown, it’s taken a huge bite out of music sales.

  • US album sales are down 14% year over year.
  • Digital album sales are down 17.7%.
  • Download sales have dropped by 24%. No wonder Apple is going hard with Apple Music. The iTunes music store ain’t what it used to be.

The situation is similar in Canada and other countries. Here, for example, total album sales are down 19.4% from last year, with digital albums dropping by 24.9%. Digital tracks are softer by 22.8%. Meanwhile, on-demand streams in Canada have grown by 63.6% over last year.

There will still be a market for physical sales–people will always want to own the music they love most–but for everything else, streaming is going to rule. Now if only any of the streaming music services could find a way to turn a profit.

And what about artists? The owner of an indie label told me this: “A couple of years ago, I could sell 500 CDs for an artist and earn $5,000. To make the same today, I’d need one million streams.”

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38458 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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