In 1979, The Buggles proclaimed that "video killed the radio star". Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and it appears that distribution and consumption of music has, once again, fundamentally changed.
On-demand audio streams have reached more than 184 billion so far in 2017, a considerable 62.4% increase over the same period last year, according to Nielsen’s U.S. Music Mid-Year 2017 Report.
Meanwhile, overall on-demand streams (including video) have surpassed 284 billion streams this year, an increase of 36.4% over the same period in 2016. There was, however, a decrease in album sales (-18.3%), albums + TEA (track equivalent albums) sales (-19.9%), digital album sales (-19.9%) and physical album sales (-17%), highlighting consumer listening habits and an industry focus on single releases.
The release of Ed Sheeran’s album ÷ (Divide) on March 3 may have contributed to the surge in weekly on-demand audio streams for the week ending March 9, which surpassed 7 billion for the first time in the U.S. Sheeran’s “Shape of You” is the most-streamed song of 2017 so far, with 690 million on-demand streams to date, including 354 million audio streams and 336 million video streams. It’s also the song with the most digital track sales: more than two million so far this year.
“The first half of 2017 has seen some incredible new benchmarks for the music industry,” said Dave Bakula, SVP Insights, Nielsen Music. “The rapid adoption of streaming platforms by consumers has generated engagement with music on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”
Drake's release of More Life on March 18 also set a record for audio on-demand streams in one week, with 385 million streams, beating the previous record held by his 2016 album, Views, which logged 245 million streams in its first week.
The biggest song at the mid-year point, in terms of total activity (sales and audio streaming equivalents combined), is "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran, with 361 million. The track also tops the digital song sales charts, with over 2 million so far this year.
Other highlights from the report include:
- Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. is the leading album in total volume this year (albums, track equivalent albums and audio on-demand streaming equivalent albums combined) and held the number one spot on the Billboard Top 200 for three weeks.
- Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book led all album on-demand streams with a unit increase of over 15 million.
- Prince was the single-most streamed artist, with an increase of over 16 million on-demand streams (5,500% increase).
For additional insights, download the U.S. Music Mid-Year 2017 Report.
This shift is different from the Buggles' proclamation because the underlying business models have changed. The old B to B to C (Record Label to TV outlet to Consumer) has been replaced with a direct B to C (Music Producer to Consumer) model that is wholly dependent on a network operator for ensuring the quality of the experience, and where the network operator is not directly compensated for their services. Given the popularity of music, mobile, fixed, and cable network operators should be undertaking proactive steps to assure the user experience of their most popular services. ~ Mike Serrano, Sr Product Marketing Manager, NETSCOUT