Audio streaming overtook YouTube music in the US last year


We covered British industry body the BPI’s music consumption figures for 2016 yesterday, but noted that there’s not yet any data comparing audio and video streams of music. In the US, the RIAA has yet to release its numbers for last year, but research firm BuzzAngle has jumped in with its estimates and comparisons.

The company claims that on-demand music audio streams grew by 82.6% year-on-year to 250.7bn in 2016, while video music streams  grew by just 7.5% to 181.3bn that year. BuzzAngle also broke down the audio figure into ad-supported on-demand streams (up 14.3% to 52bn) and subscription on-demand streams (up 124.3% to 191.4bn).

“So not only is streaming growing nicely, but the overall composition is also shifting to subscription-based consumption,” wrote BuzzAngle CEO Jim Lidestri in the company’s annual report. “The combination of these two trends will result in higher average revenue per user and more profitability for the industry.” We’ll await the RIAA’s market data later in the year for confirmation of how much more ARPU and profitability that means.

Other notable stats: BuzzAngle claims that there were more music-streams on any given day in 2016 – the average was 1.2bn – than there were song downloads for the entire year (734m). It notes a 24.8% decline in song downloads, a 19.4% fall in digital album sales, and an 11.7% drop in physical album sales, but claims overall music consumption was up 4.9% year-on-year.

We need to talk more about BuzzAngle’s stats for music video consumption though. Why did it only grow by 7.5% year-on-year? While music rightsholders will welcome the shift to platforms that generate more revenue for the industry and its creators, the figures should also spark discussion about how the recent evolutions of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm are affecting music.

Stuart Dredge

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