Nielsen’s Music Report Card
On Friday Nielsen released its annual 2019 Year End Music Report, which provides a snapshot on the state of music sales in the US. The big headline is that overall listening continues to grow at a breakneck pace, thanks to streaming. For 2019 total music consumption was up 11% over 2018. This increase was driven by streaming which grew +19% YoY (graphic below). In contrast actual album sales, which includes physical albums and digital downloads, dropped by -19% in 2019.
To come up with these calculations Nielsen used Billboard’s formula to equate streamed listening into album sales through a common metric called Total Equivalent Albums (TEA). In the formula 1,250 subscription streams count as one album sale, and 3,750 free ad-supported streams count as one album sale. Thanks to TEA we can get an apples-to-apples look at what’s happening to music consumption across both purchased albums and streamed listening.
So what’s the bottom line here? In 2019 the US music industry became more dependent on streaming than ever. Record sales continue to plummet, but are being made up for and then some with streaming gains, which continues to drive double digit growth for the industry.