Analysis

US music-video streams growth pales next to audio streams


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Overall music consumption in the US grew by 9.9% in the first half of 2017, according to analytics firm BuzzAngle.

It has published its Mid Year 2017 report ahead of the publication of official half-year figures from the RIAA.

The report shows how the key trends from 2016 have continued this year, including a 58.5% rise in audio streams; 29.5% growth in ‘song consumption’ and a 13.9% fall in album sales.

There are some big numbers around streaming. Those audio streams reached 179.8bn in the first half of 2017, but what’s interesting is BuzzAngle’s claim that subscription streams accounted for 78.6% of those streams – up from 73.6% in the first half of 2016. The US is now averaging 10.8bn total on-demand streams a week.

BuzzAngle’s report also highlights another angle on the ‘value gap’ debate about YouTube and safe harbour.

The report claims that while on-demand audio streams grew by 58.5% to 179.8bn, on-demand video streams for music only grew by 6.1% to 101.5bn in the first half of 2017.

In fact, there were nearly 40bn more subscription on-demand audio streams than on-demand video streams in that period.

This doesn’t end the ‘value gap’ debate by any means – try suggesting that to a music-industry body and you’ll get short shrift – but it does raise an interesting talking point.

Rather than free YouTube viewing cannibalising the growth prospects for subscription streaming services, could the rapid rise of music subscriptions start to cannibalise free YouTube viewing of music? Although to reiterate: the latter is still growing rather than shrinking.

Something else that stood out for us from BuzzAngle’s report: the dynamics when you compare different kinds of listening by release period.

19.2% of US album sales in the first half of 2017 were of ‘new’ albums – those up to eight weeks old. 20.7% were ‘recent’ (8-78 weeks old), 8.9% were ‘catalogue’ (78-156 weeks old) and 51.2% were ‘deep catalogue’ (more than 156 weeks old).

Audio streams are less weighted towards ‘new’ (11.3%) and more towards ‘recent’ (28.1%). And video streams? Only 5.8% of those were for ‘new’ music, while 59.3% were for ‘deep catalogue’. That’s useful context for the safe-harbour debate.

Stuart Dredge

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