Streaming Music Surpasses Digital Downloads for First Time

According to Nielsen, streaming officially became the primary means of consuming music in the U.S. during 2016. “Overall on-demand audio streams surpassed 251 billion in 2016 — a 76 percent increase that accounts for 38 percent of the entire music consumption market,” reports Pitchfork. For the first time, on-demand audio streaming has surpassed sales of digital albums + digital track equivalents. An average day saw 1.2 billion streams, compared to a total of 734 million downloads for the entire year. Rock is the most popular genre, representing 29 percent of consumption (but only 20 percent of streaming), while hip-hop and R&B make up 22 percent of total consumption (but an industry-leading 28 percent of streaming).

“Hip-hop’s streaming success,” adds Pitchfork, “comes from popular albums by Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West, the Weeknd, J. Cole, and more. Drake placed as Nielsen’s top artist of 2016, earning over 5.4 billion on-demand audio streams.”