by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
The day after I post my 2016 music predictions (quoting mid-year album sales figures) a press release arrives from Nielsen, the music research and monitoring services for the entertainment industry, recapping 2015 album sales numbers. Nielsen’s airplay, sales and streaming data represents music consumers, and powers the Billboard charts,
Despite album sales continuing in a downward spiral, Nielsen sounded very optimistic about the industry’s future, including the future of vinyl sales. Here are some highlights:
— Total music consumption for 2015 — album sales plus track equivalent albums and streaming equivalent albums — increased more than 15% over 2014, led by the continued surge in streaming, Nielsen said. More than 317 billion songs were streamed on-demand in 2015 through audio and video platforms, an increase of 92.8% from 2014.
— Although album sales were down 6% in 2015, the decline was notably less than the 11% decline for 2014, Nielsen said. Vinyl album sales continued to grow, with sales up 30%, accounting for nearly 9% of total physical album sales.
Adele’s 25 was “by far and away the year’s biggest seller, with over 7.4 million year-to-date sales (in only six weeks), making it the biggest seller in a single year since 2004,” Nielsen said. In fact, Nielsen spent an entire page of their report recapping all of Adele’s sales records, declaring 2015 “The Year of Adele.”
Other interesting details from the report:
— Streaming continues its growth with audio on-demand streaming up 83% vs last year and video on-demand streaming up 102%. Back catalog continues to be the biggest share of on-demand streams, with songs more than 18 months old accounting for nearly 70% of all streaming volume.
— Vinyl LPs continued to set new all-time highs with nearly 12 million units sold in 2015. Independent record stores continue to be the biggest driver of vinyl LP sales, with more than 45% of vinyl LP sales coming from Independent stores.
— Rock is still the biggest genre for vinyl LPs with more than 68% of LP sales coming from rock titles. With strong sales of vinyl LPs by Adele/25 and Taylor Swift/1989, pop more than doubled its share of vinyl LP sales from 2014 (5.7% of total in 2015 vs. 2.8% of total in 2014).
Nearly 18% of all physical album sales for rock were vinyl LPs in 2015, up from 13.4% in 2014.
Biggest surprise to me was their radio numbers. According to Nielsen, radio reaches more Americans than any other device or platform, with 93 percent of adult consumers over 18 years of age using radio each week — more than TV (87%), smartphones (71%), PCs (54%), TV-connected devices (40%) and tablets (29%).
Top formats didn’t surprise me: Pop Contemporary Hit Radio was No. 1, followed by Country, Hot Adult Contemporary (AC), Urban Contemporary, Adult Contemporary, etc. Classic Rock, which seems to be a staple in Omaha radio, was ranked 9th.
Sadly, magazines were ranked dead last on the list of “how we discover music,” just below online music news — the two places where I discover a lot of new music. Radio — which I don’t listen to for music — was top of the list. Odd.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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