Updated on December 10, 2021
A Nielsen survey confirms what the recording industry itself stated almost a year ago. Nielsen reports in 2016, streaming music firmly overtook digital single and album sales in the United States. I’ll assume Nielsen vs RIAA’s timing on announcing this is due to differing statistics. The RIAA itself should release its own 2016 results later this year.
More interesting are the statistical breakdowns of Nielsen’s report.
R&B, hip-hop are the most popular streaming music genres
Nielsen reports that 431 billion songs (an average of 1.2 billion a day) were streamed by Americans in 2016. Of these, R&B and hip-hop were the most popular genres, making up 28% of streams.
CNET reports that rock music still is the most popular genre for album sales.
I assume it’s a reflection of the popularity these days of pop, R&B, and hip-hop overall, especially among younger listeners. As for rock album sales, I wonder if the tragic deaths in 2016 of musicians like David Bowie and Prince are a factor.
Drake is the most popular streaming artist
The most popular artist on streaming services in 2016 was Canadian rapper Drake. Drake’s songs took 5.4 billion streams.
Other popular artists on streaming services include The Weeknd, Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West.
Physical album sales rise
Physical album sales rose as a total of album sales for the first time in a decade. Part of this might’ve been from a rise in vinyl sales, which had their highest sales since 1991.
I gather the vinyl craze isn’t going away just yet. Again, I wonder if 2016 seeing Bowie, Prince, and other rock stars’ passings might’ve also affected sales.