Music Streaming Tops 250 Billion Songs in 2016

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Anyone who still believes that buying CDs or downloads are going to drive the music industry going forward has not been paying attention. Maybe new data from industry researchers at BuzzAngle Music will provide the required wake-up call.

More than 250 billion audio streams were played last year, an increase of 82.6% compared with 2015. Adding together sales and streams, song consumption rose 27.2% year over year in 2016 and overall music consumption rose 4.9% to 413.9 million album project units, the total of album sales, song sales divided by 10 and on-demand audio streams divided by 1,500.

The researchers sum it up neatly:

There were more streams on any given day during 2016 (daily average of 1.2 billion) than there were song downloads for the entire year (734 million).

BuzzAngle’s 67-page report is packed with data points. Here are some of them:

  • Drake was artist of the year, with more than 6.1 million total album consumption units, while his album “Views” was album of the year and his song “One Dance” was song of the year.
  • More than 28 million unique songs were streamed in 2016, compared with purchases of 7.3 million unique songs and 1.4 million unique albums.
  • Album sales fell 15.6% overall year over year, with digital album sales down 19.4%.
  • Sales of vinyl albums rose 25.9%, accounting for about 8% of a total of 89.4 million physical albums sold.

And if anyone is still wondering why Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) is about to introduce a paid subscription option, here are a couple of reasons. Ad-supported streams rose by 14.3% year over year in 2016 to 59.4 billion. Subscription streams rose by 124.3% to 191.4 billion.

According to BuzzAngle’s genre charts, the Pop category had the largest percentage of total album consumption at 14.6%, but that was down 4.6% year over year. The second-largest category was Hip-Hop/Rap which grew by 24.8% to 14.4% of album consumption.

Hip-Hop/Rap also received 20.3% of all audio streams in 2016, well ahead of second-place Pop, which had 13.5% of all audio streams.

And what do people stream most? Songs that are more than three years old got 48.3% of audio streams in 2016. That’s down slightly (1.8%) year over year, but well ahead of recent releases (more than eight and up to 72 weeks old), which nabbed 29.2% of all streams.

See the BuzzAngle Music website for the full report and prepare to be amazed at the amount of data the company has collected. Top album and song charts by genre and artist are included as well.