US music streams have nearly doubled in 2015 so far


sample_of_the_official_usg_color_flag_350x250The number of music tracks streamed by Americans has nearly doubled in the first nine months of 2015, according to the latest figures from Nielsen SoundScan.

That’s 232bn streams between January and September, compared to 118.1bn in the same period last year. Nielsen converts this into Stream-Equivalent Albums (SEA) which rose 96% year-on-year to 154.6m units.

Within the figures, there’s also confirmation of the current scale of the decline in digital music sales. Nielsen tracked 756.3m individual digital track sales in the first nine months of this year, down 10.9% year-on-year. Digital album sales fared better, dropping 0.3% to 77.3m units.

Overall, Nielsen says that album sales plus Track Equivalent Albums (TEA) fell 6.4% to 243.9m. That suggests – although we’ll have to wait for the RIAA’s end-of-year figures to be sure – that streaming may well generate enough additional revenue to account for the overall fall in sales.

Nielsen’s report is also likely to continue the debate around how independent labels’ market share should be measured in the US, and what that means for new and renewed streaming deals.

Of the 243.9m album and TEA sales, Universal accounted for 39.2%, Sony 27.3%, Warner 19.4% and indies 13.2% – yet these figures bundle indies distributed by the major labels into the latter companies’ share.

On ownership alone, Billboard notes that the indie sector would have a share of more like 35% – with licensing agency Merlin long having argued that they punch above even that weight on streaming services.

Stuart Dredge

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