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2017 music sales: streaming soars, but vinyl is still cool

2017 music sales: streaming soars, but vinyl is still cool

68.1 billion songs were streamed in 2017 and even though a big fat chunk of those were Ed Sheeran songs, music streaming is at an all time high. As a result, album sales are in their third year of exponential growth showing a 51.4% increase on the figures from 2016. According to Music Week:

“Streaming now accounts for over half of UK music consumption and the industry recorded a new landmark last month of 1.5 billion audio streams in a week.”

The key facts from 2017 music sales

  • Despacito is officially the most streamed song of all time, anywhere, ever.
  • Ed Sheeran was the top streamed artist, followed by Drake and Little Mix.
  • The top three albums were, unsurprisingly, Ed Sheeran’s ÷ , Rag n’ Bone Man’s Human and Sam Smith’s The Thrill Of It All.
  • Overall, we’ve listened to more music than ever in the last decade with an increase in music consumption by 8.7% – the fastest rise since 1998.

It seems the way we consume music is changing significantly but not all things are getting left behind…

So, is tangible music dead?

Nope. Whilst CD sales have taken a bit of a nose dive, vinyl is once again at an all time high. We no longer have to go sifting through old dusty record shops to get our vinyl fix. Major music shops are stocking their shelves with records from the old classics to the latest releases. It seems over recent years, the retro medium is continuing to make a come back.  We could put it down to a multitude of reasons from the enhanced album art you get with buying a record or the nostalgic crackle of a needle on a record giving listeners that extra bit of authenticity.

Nevertheless, it seems vinyl lovers are still keeping it old school with the top ten vinyl albums of 2017 including: Ed Sheeran (obviously!), Liam Gallagher, Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse, Rag n’ Bone Man, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Oasis and Bowie. According to stats published by the BBC, 4.1 million LPs were purchased on vinyl in 2017. This still only accounts for 3% of overall music sales, but is a significant figure all-the-same.

Music noms lowdown: UK music consumption

That being said, music ownership as a whole is on the decline with the vast majority of consumers opting for easy-to-use streaming sites. Spotify is, by a pretty wide margin, one of the most popular streaming services with around 70 million paying subscribers. With its intelligent music suggestion tools giving you all the new music you can ask for, you’re pretty much good to go with your monthly subscription – who needs to buy an album these days anyway?

How does this impact the artist’s earnings?

But, the question on everyone’s minds is this: with the rise of streaming sites, how long does it take for artists to get any significant recompense? According to data from Information is Beautiful in 2015, for a solo artist to earn the American monthly minimum wage of $1,260, they needed 1,117,021 plays on Spotify. Artist revenue per play for is around $0.0011; unsigned on the other hand is 180,000 plays but $0.0007 per play..

Recent updates to this study which looks at comparing the main music streaming sites can be seen below with the top streaming platform for artist revenue going to Napster. Second place goes to Tidal with artist revenue per play hitting $0.0167 and $0.0110 respectively. Spotify is still trailing somewhat with only $0.0038

Don’t get us wrong, if you’re hitting play counts like Ed Sheeran’s, that figure is sure to add up. But it’s safe to say that as a new or aspiring artist, it seems a little unlikely that you’ll be quitting that day job just yet…

Article by Bex Cole

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A digital music magazine for musicians and music lovers with alternative ideas and careers.

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