Nielsen has released figures for music sales for the first half of 2016. Along with recent news on Spotify’s growth comes news that audio streaming usage has nearly doubled from the first half of 2015. Music video streaming (presumably mainly YouTube) has also risen, though not by nearly as much. The only physical media sales growth has been in vinyl.
The biggest drop over the first half of 2015 has been in sales of digital singles, followed by digital albums and CDs. I can see why digital singles have been particularly hard hit; between Spotify and YouTube, one can listen to almost any song at will, and for free. Even paying $10/month for Spotify is probably seen as more cost-effective for big music fans, versus only being able to get a single album a month (if that) at that price.
Digital/streaming formats aren’t as high quality as CDs’ lossless audio. However, for most listeners, MP3s do sound good enough. There’s also not having to deal with ripping CDs. That said, Amazon will throw in a free MP3 copy of an album with any CD purchase.
Vinyl might be more attractive to those who want collectors’ items such as liner notes or album art. Vinyl albums offers both liner notes (printed in a much larger size) as well as much larger sized album artwork than what CDs could provide. I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea of vinyl necessarily being superior in terms of audio quality; analog audio “warmth” aside, I do have childhood memories of my parents’ records wearing out.
Below’s an infographic showing Nielsen’s figures.
Infographic by Statista (CC BY-ND)