Thursday, January 9, 2014
Digital music sales drop in 2013, the first time since iTunes store launch
Experts attribute the drop to an increase in streaming.
Digital music sales decreased in 2013 for the first time since the inception of the iTunes store a decade ago, according to the latest report from Nielsen SoundScan.
Individual track sales dropped nearly 6 percent -- to 1.26 billion from 1.34 billion the previous year -- while album sales declined 0.1 percent to 117.6 million. According to Rolling Stone, albums sales including physical CDs cumulatively fell about 8 percent.
Considering the government’s push to eliminate piracy and torrent websites like MediaFire in 2012, one would expect the number of digital purchases to rise. But experts say streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify are “cannibalizing” digital music sales, according to Billboard. The number of streams in 2013 rose 32 percent to more than 118 billion, the ad revenue from which Rolling Stone said accounted for the equivalent of 59 million in track sales.
The highest grossing songs of the year were Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which accumulated 6.5 million downloads, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop,” which garnered 6.1 million downloads. The year’s best selling albums include Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience (2.4 million copies sold), Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP2 (1.7 million), Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party (1.5 million), Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions (1.4 million) and Brunos Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox (1.4 million).
Comparatively, these numbers are grim. In 2012, Adele’s 21 (which came out in 2011), sold 4.4 million copes, followed by Taylor Swift’s Red at 3.1 million copies.
Looking ahead, streaming services are poised for market growth as Beats By Dre, YouTube and Apple ready their respective subscription-based services. Another sector on the rise: vinyl. According to Nielsen SoundScan, LP sales increased 33 percent in 2013.Follow @tineywristwatch