A little more than a decade after Apple opened the iTunes Music Store and helped music downloads to break through to the mainstream, it appears as if listeners have already turned their backs on download stores in favor of streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. After global download revenues had declined for the first time in 2013, the negative trend continued in 2014. According to Nielsen’s 2014 U.S. music report, single track and album downloads dropped by 12.5% and 9.4% respectively, as music consumption continued to shift towards streaming.
In total, Americans streamed more than 160 billion tracks in 2014, including audio streams as well as streams on video sites such as YouTube and VEVO. Compared to 2013, that’s a 54.5% increase of all streaming activity, meaning that the pace at which streaming is growing has accelerated compared to 2013, despite the larger base. The only medium able to keep pace with streaming in terms of growth was the LP. Vinyl sales grew by 51.8%, continuing a surprise comeback. Before music traditionalists break out the champagne, one thing should be noted though: at 9.2 million units, LPs still accounted for no more than 3.6% of total album sales in 2014.