Will streaming replace digital sales? Latest trends suggest so
For those born in the 1990s, it’s fairly easy to remember the vast transition from CDs to MP3s and digital music in general at the turn of the millennium. Not even 20 years into the 2000’s, we are now witnessing a new trend signalling the end of the MP3 era. That trend, of course, is music streaming.
According to a study conducted by Nielsen Soundscan, a music sale tracking company, music streaming rates have doubled in both the United States and Canada in 2015. A year ago, from January to September, streams were 118.1 billion; within the same time period this year, they were recorded at 232 billion. Meanwhile, digital track sales fell by 10.9% while digital album sales remained relatively stagnant. With music piracy at an all-time high and services like Spotify offering convenient membership plans, the results of this study are hardly surprising.
That said, the Nielsen report also leads to another debate within the music industry – specifically, independent label effects on the streaming market. Indie labels currently carry a 13.2% share in digital sales, yet what hasn’t been accounted for in the study is the fact that many of these sales are part of larger bundles distributed by larger labels. Billboard noted that in actuality, indies might hold up to a 35% stake in these sales, which could translate into competition with major labels that have a stake in streaming services.