Album sales have hit their lowest point in the first half of this year since tracking began in 1991, as listeners increasingly use streaming services like Spotify and Pandora and video-sharing website like YouTube to get their music fix.
According to Billboard, album sales are down a sharp 13.6 percent to 100.3 million between January and June of this year, with CD sales falling most significantly with just 50 million units sold.
Digital album sales dipped from 53.7 million in the first half of last year to 43.8 million over the same time frame this year, while vinyl sales rose 11.4 percent, buoyed by David Bowie’s final album Blackstar, which sold 57,000 albums to become the year’s top seller on vinyl so far.
The bleak sales figures don’t mean that the music industry is dead just yet; instead, music lovers are increasingly turning to Spotify and other streaming services.
Billboard reports that listeners streamed 208.9 billion songs in the first half of this year for an increase of 58.7 percent over the same time frame last year.
The move to streaming services means it is harder than ever for artists to reach the platinum album threshold. Just three albums have sold more than one million units so far this year: Drake’s Views, Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Adele’s 25.
The decline in recorded music sales and the increase in use of streaming services is a trend that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future. As Breitbart News has previously reported, there are many reasons why the music industry is in trouble, and has been for years; perhaps most importantly, streaming services are decidedly not the savior the industry had hoped for when they first arrived on the scene.
Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora pay fractions of pennies per streamed song; and what little money the artists do get from the services goes mostly to the artists’ record labels.
For now, however, the industry is banking on streaming to help move music; according to Billboard, total album “consumption” — which includes track-equivalent album sales and stream-equivalent album sales — was up 8.9 percent to 279.9 million units in the first half of 2016.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum