If you’ve been working in this industry for a while, prepare for a midlife crisis: the music download has apparently “hit middle age”. That’s according to Billboard, which provides the latest download sales from the US as proof. Track sales were down 4.4% year-on-year for 2013 up until 24 November, and once you factor in digital album sales, it’s still a 4% decline. “In the first half of 2013, U.S. consumers bought between 23 million and 25 million tracks per week. In October and November, weekly track sales dropped below 20 million,” notes Billboard’s Glenn Cooper. Even digital album sales – usually cited as a bright spot this year – are up just 0.5% compared to 2012. Hats off to him for avoiding scaremongering answers: “The reason for the drop-off is a web of interrelated stories that show new technologies affecting consumer behaviour.” Streaming is a big part of that, particularly as catalogue sales fall faster, but as we’ve said before, the missing figures in all this are just how much streaming is growing – in terms of revenues – to make up for the downloads decline.

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