The numbers are in on the year in music 2016, and they are a mixed bag.
Overall, it was a successful year for the music industry. According to the debut report from BuzzAngle Music, which analyzes music sales and consumption, overall consumption rose almost 5 percent over 2015. Nearly all of that increase was propelled by another steep rise in audio streaming, which went up a whopping 82 percent.
That’s good news for consumers: Streaming is an inexpensive, sometimes free, means of getting access to a vast, deep supply of music without owning any physical product.
But it’s another story for bands and artists who thrive on compensation for their music: Overall album sales fell more than 15 percent, and the drop was all over the landscape: digital album sales fell more than 19 percent, physical album sales dropped almost 12 percent, and downloads of songs were down almost 25 percent.
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There were bright, though sad, sides: Our favorite artists who died in 2016 received some posthumous love through dramatic rises in sales of their music.
And sales of vinyl albums continued to rise, up 26 percent; vinyl albums constituted 8 percent of all physical album sales.
Here’s breakdown of some of the numbers in the report.
Mourning the greats
The year 2016 was infamous for many reasons — notably the deaths of many music stars, most of whom, according to the report, ended up in the Top 100 chart for album sales.
David Bowie: In the four days after his death on Jan. 10, sales of Bowie albums exceeded 400,000, compared to 121,000 in album sales for all of 2015; song streams exceeded 93 million, compared to 6.7 million the week before; and sales of songs were nearly 390,000, compared to 9,800 the week before.
Prince: On the day he died, April 21, more than 1 million of his songs were downloaded and 230,000 albums were sold. From April 21-24, sales of his songs exceeded 3 million, compared to almost 19,000 the week before; and album sales exceeded 650,000 compared to about 200,000 in all of 2015.
Merle Haggard: In the four days following his death on April 6, album sales jumped to more than 31,000, compared to 2,500 the week before; song sales jumped to almost 110,000, compared to about 3,800 the week before; and song streams jumped to more than 21 million compared to 1.2 million the week before.
Joey Feek: Feek was part of the country duo Joey + Rory when she died in March. The week of her death, album sales jumped 47 percent, song sales jumped 254 percent and streams jumped 268 percent to 5.3 million.
George Michael: He died on Christmas Day; in the week that followed, fans bought more than 40,000 copies of his albums and more than 300,000 songs and streamed his music more than 37 million times.
At year’s end, Prince was No. 4 on the overall album sales chart (1.5 million), behind Adele, Drake and Beyonce, and Bowie was No. 7 (1 million), Haggard was No. 58 and Leonard Cohen, who died in November, was No. 94.
Popular on vinyl
“Blurryface” by Twenty One Pilots was the top-selling vinyl album (49,000), followed by Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool,” the Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” Adele’s “25,” David Bowie’s “Blackstar,” Prince’s “Purple Rain,” Bob Marley’s “Legend,” Twenty One Pilots’ “Vessel” and Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.”
This tracks with another ominous trend: sales of catalog and deep catalog albums accounted for almost 60 percent of album sales, meaning consumers bought more older music than new and recent music.
We love to stream
The streaming numbers are staggering. Drake’s “Views” was the most-streamed album of 2016: more than 3.1 billion streams, almost 2.9 billion of them audio streams. He was also the most-streamed artist: more than 6 billion audio and video streams.
The number of songs streamed more than 100 million times jumped to 226 in 2016, up from 111 in 2015. The number of songs downloaded more than 2 million times in 2016 dropped to five in 2016, down from 16 in 2015.
In the introduction to the report, BuzzAngle Music’s Jim Lidestri cited what he called “perhaps the most important stat of the year”: The percentage of streams via subscription services like Google Play and Spotify rose more than 22 percent to 76 percent of all streams.
“Not only is streaming growing nicely, but the overall composition is also shifting to subscription-based consumption,” he wrote. “The combination of these two trends will result in higher average revenue per user and more profitability for the industry.”
But if you’ve been following the issue of artist compensation from subscription services, you know that’s not necessarily good news for the recording artists.
In 2015, Spotify paid artists and rights holders between about a half-cent to a little more than three-quarters of a cent per stream, which means a song streamed 1 million times earns about $8,400 to be split among the artist and other rights holders.
Pop just beats hip-hop
Pop music was the most-consumed music in 2016, though its percentage of total, 14.6 percent, fell more than 4 percent. Hip-hop was No. 2, followed by R&B, rock, country, Latin music, alternative rock, indie rock, metal and religious music.
Consumption of dance music jumped the most, 35 percent, followed by hip-hop (25 percent) and R&B (24 percent).