Report: Music Sales Suffer Dramatic Decline / Streaming Up 60% In 2016

Published: Tuesday 12th Jul 2016 by Rashad
streaming rihanna thatgrapejuice sales nielsen

If music industry analysts were hoping the successful releases of Rihanna, Drake, Kanye West, and Beyonce would be enough to save 2016 from the sales woes of 2015 (read more here), their hope was misguided.

As detailed by the mid-year Nielsen report created to reflect American music consumption trends, 2016 is off to a much worse start than last year.  In fact, compared to this time last year, traditional sales are seeing a steady decline with physical numbers down 14% while digital numbers are down a whopping 18%.

However, not all is lost. For, as the releases of Drizzy, Rih, and West have proven, streaming is not the wave of the future, but it is the wave of the now (read more here).  Helping boost total music consumption upward (sales plus streaming), tuck in below to get the positive stats on streaming year to date (tracking ended June 30):

Via Nielsen:

“…209 billion songs streamed on-demand through audio and video platforms—an increase of 59% over the same period last year. Audio on-demand streams now make up 54% of total streams, while video is now 46% of the total.

Other key findings from 2016 Nielsen Mid-Year U.S. Music Report:

– Total consumption for the year, based on albums plus track equivalent albums and streaming equivalent albums, is up 9% from last year.

– Thanks to continued growth in streaming, overall digital consumption (sales and streams) is up 15%.

– Overall album sales are down 14%, including an 18% decline in digital album sales.”


Other highlights from the year (to date):

Mid-Year Top 10 Albums (Based on Overall Equivalent Album Units – 2016 Sales Only)

  1. Drake, Views (2,609,000 units)  Note:  1.3 are traditional sales
  2. Adele, 25 (1,747,000 units)  Note:  1.4 million are traditional sales
  3. Beyonce, Lemonade (1,687,000 units)  Note:  1.2 million are traditional sales
  4. Justin Bieber, Purpose (1,332,000 units)  Note:  479,000 are traditional sales
  5. Rihanna, Anti (1,272,000 units)  Note:  480,000 are traditional sales

Unique Streaming Events In 2016

  1. Drake makes streaming history with over 1 billion streams of album ‘Views’ (read more)
  2. Rihanna makes history with lowest traditional sales to ever top Billboard charts (read more)
  3. Kanye West makes history as first artist to top Billboard charts via streaming alone (read more)


As the primary means of music consumption (and biggest source of music industry revenue) it will be interesting to see how many digital music outlets ink exclusive streaming rights with big artists in the future vs. how record labels will want to capitalize on wide availability across all the platforms.

It all still spells for troubling times ahead (source)

Your thoughts?

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  1. LB July 12, 2016

    Grabbing my flask, there will be a lot of hive tears in this post.

    • flawda July 12, 2016

      Why would they be in tears considering her album was stream exclusively through Tidal for the most part. At the end of the day since the owner of Tidal is her husband that means more money for her in the back end. She sacrificed meaningless first week/total sales to build equity in Tidal.

      That’s just me looking at it from a business and logic perspective. I know most people don’t have that on here.

      • LB July 12, 2016

        I posted that because most of the hive are anti-streaming.

        I personally think the efforts of Yonce, Rihanna and Kanye to build membership for Tidal are commendable (Prince helped a lot), but really there is nothing Tidal is offering that is groundbreaking that Spotify isn’t offering, well beside music videos (which can be streamed on YouTube).

        Tidal needs to step their game up, exclusives just aren’t going to take them as far as they’d like.

        Plus Jay Z isn’t the only owner of tidal, he spread the ownership around, remember.

      • Mark111 July 12, 2016

        And it’s not more money for her because Sony owns the music rights. In fact, hubby camel face Jay & Tidal has to PAY Sony for the music rights to have Beyonce and other Sony slaves music on the service. And that’s ONE out of the big three labels. WB and Universal has to be paid in order for Tidal to stream them. Plus Tidal gain the little subscription boosted from Rihanna and Kanye, months before when even knew about the Kool-aid Lp. Nice try tho, but *Plays the chorus to Try Again by Aaliyah*.

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016


      • LB July 12, 2016

        What does that have to do with anything?

    • July 12, 2016

      Actually no. She’ll catch up to Adele in no time . And will probably outdo Drake in the long run when she comes back touring in the US , and drop on all streaming services . We ain’t bothered . Let’s wait for that year-end chart shall we ?

      • LB July 12, 2016

        But the hive are anti-streaming, interesting you now care.

  2. LB July 12, 2016

    Don’t forget the industry is up thanks to streaming,

    “Billboard estimates total U.S. revenue at $1.98 billion so far this year, versus $1.82 billion last year, an corresponding 8.9 percent increase.”

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

      Rihanna having the lowest no 1 album sales tho….

      • LB July 12, 2016

        Anti has generated 2.5 million worth of sales for Rihanna’s record label, unlike a certain label slave.

      • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016


      • LB July 12, 2016

        It’s $18 because it has a very expensive visual on it, or were you naive enough to think visual albums are cheap to make. Wait, you’re from the BeyHive, feel free not to answer.

      • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

        The visual cost around a million dollars to make as a whole, which i don’t think is a lot. However, the fact remains that people are still purchasing the album on i tunes, which is commendable despite being only on TIDAL.

      • LB July 12, 2016

        LMAO A cheap visual maybe, that’s why that album is selling for $18 dollars, production costs are not cheap.

        Either way, 2.5 million million worth of sales was generated for Rihanna’s label.

      • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016


      • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

        I’m still conflicted as to how A NINE WEEK NO1 SINGLE by one the biggest artist in the world could not result in a sell out of STANDARD ARENAS IN HER HOME BASE.

      • LB July 12, 2016

        You think long and hard about your statement, long and hard.

      • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

        I did and those arenas were still not sold out sis…LMAO

      • LB July 12, 2016

        July 12, 2016 at 10:55 pm
        Surprise..(DEC 2013) says:



        ^^Think on that rubbish, or have you realized how stupid you sounded?

      • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

        Didn’t SAMSAVE purchased copies of ANTI???…OR DID U MAGICALLY ERASE THAT FRM UR BRAIN.

      • wrosy3 July 13, 2016

        Yet rih made more money than bey bloop!!!!

    • wrosy3 July 13, 2016

      The hives are delusional they brag before numbers are counted the hatred these cockroach has for other artists look at the other women beating beyonce on the Forbes list pathetic Kim k close to bey in money earnings and these fools counted Jay numbers talking about bey brought in more really hives a independent woman do not cling to her husband earnings Taylor numbers are massive

  3. Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

    This is tragic but true…WHEN AN ALBUM CAN SELL 17K and still be no 1, that is evidence that something is wrong and things are changing. I still admire those artist that can sell PHYSICAL copies over streaming points tho. It shows they actually cared to purchase the album as opposed to listening to it for free on spotify.

    • Mark111 July 12, 2016

      Name 7 artist that are selling high physical or digital albums. Go!

    • Casual-T July 13, 2016

      I think there is a huge demographic component to sales of physical copies versus streaming. Older audiences tend to lag with respect to technology, though they are catching up. It will continue to be increasingly hard to sell physical units of any album.

  4. LB July 12, 2016

    But Anti sold less than Justin Beibers album from last year? Oh well at least she’s selling out stadiums. Oh wait… I was getting Rihanna and Beyonce mixed up. Beyonce has a better selling album and a better selling tour.

  5. king July 12, 2016

    So no post on riri making 75 milliin

    • BEYSTAN_ SINCE 1997 July 12, 2016

      No post on the Forbes list period. Why are so pressed for him to post it? You act like Rihanna is giving you a cut out of her $75 million. The funny part is Taylor made $170 million last year & she is #1 yet there is NO POST. Beyoncé & Jay-z are the highest paid couple of 2016 with $107 million and NO POST for them either!

  6. Stephy July 12, 2016

    The music industry is dead. They had a nice run tho.

    Sony used to bring in 3 – 5 billion $’s in album sales revenue alone, per-year. Now, ALL the MAJOR (and minor) labels collectively COMBINED bringing in a lil over 2 billion $’s in sales (not just album sales but everything combined) per-year. What a massive fall from heaven.

    As Mariah said, “Everything Fades Away, nothing ever stays the same baby, NOTHING ever stays the same”

    RIP 1958 – 2008 (we can add 2009/2010 if you wanna be nice). 🙂 Po’thang’s

    • LB July 12, 2016

      That drop was not because of streaming, it was because of illegal downloading.

      Streaming is actually saving the industry, revenues are up 8.9%.

      • Stephy July 12, 2016

        Streaming is their only hope at this point. It must hurts these record executives like hell (Aretha’s voice) to see how low the industry has sunken. They’ll never be a double digit billion $ annual income yearly industry force, like they once were…

        But, I am happy the creative teams have found a new way of profiting in green again, through streams. I’ve learned to just let that sales hurt go… It’s a new era & I get it. But, the golden years are long gone. Sad because real artist(s) & musicians won’t truly get what they deserve (financially) for their authentic contributions to the art-form. Sad but true.

      • LB July 12, 2016

        Sad because real artist(s) & musicians won’t truly get what they deserve (financially) for their authentic contributions to the art-form. Sad but true.

        How is it sad? This is great news because it takes away power from the radio monopoly. In the “digital era” where iTunes was dominating, it was difficult to get your album to sell without it getting a few spins on Clearchannel radio stations, now with streaming, that power is going back into the hands of the consumer, plus record labels can make a protit from it.

        We all know without Spotify, there is no way Panda would be in the top ten or even hit #1 on the Hot 100, Streaming gave this artist a chance.

        Streaming is awesome because I can test out albums to see if I’ll like them, I can also hare my music with my friends, share playlists, subscribe to other people’s playlists and even see what my friends are listening to. It gives smaller artists a chance to expand their sound offerings.

        What labels should now focus on is how to get freemium users into paid subscribers like me. The more paid subscribers they get, the more money they can make for their artists.

        Streaming music will be like watching movies on Netflix (which killed Blockbuster and DVD sales BTW), and nobody is talking down on Netflix today.

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016

      And once again, STEPHY u hit the nail on the head…That is truly the sad part. These artist are not financially compensated from streaming generated values, especially spotify which does not pay the artist shitt. I feel like a lot of people now will depend on TOURING to earn money they deserve. However, for a new artist coming up, streaming will not do anything for them financially…..Hence, the established acts like the BEYONCE, RIHANNA, KANYE, DRAKE, TAYLOR, ADELE E.T.C can always go on tour or still sell physical album copies and as for the rest, well they are all screwed.

  7. Danzou July 12, 2016

    Lol LB is getting trashed.

  8. Mark111 July 12, 2016

    So even the so called “pure sales” (whatever that means), ANTi is still the top 5 selling album. And with streaming (that is saving the music industry according to this article) she’s #2,#1 female. I thought she flopped. I thought that Kool-aid artist was going to stop her. Oh and 1.4 million albums were gifted, so when it comes to the check, Rihanna is the #1 artist that is winning this year since she owns her masters. We know Birdman ain’t paying Drake ish and the label slave only taking home 7% of those album sales. With all those writers and lawsuits, it can’t be much. I would be slaving away tour too.

    • LB July 12, 2016

      And don’t forget the album has sold over 1 million, and is one of the most streamed albums this year.

      In addition to that, it has generated over 1.5 million in single sales, and one of the most streamed songs this year, one of the most airplayed songs this year as well as one of the most viewed videos this year.

      Most artists would want to be Rihanna right now.

    • Hmmm… July 12, 2016

      Lmao. We know you don’t know what “pure sales” means. We know.

  9. Weezy Tha Goat/ Zayn is ? July 12, 2016

    Streaming is a joke. It’s slowly killing an already dying industry. The Gavy ( Loose Booty ) was against streaming not even a year ago, now that boy changed up ???

    • Mark111 July 12, 2016

      Well Lil Patsey isn’t getting a release date to sell or stream. How are you a CEO of your own label and can’t get an album out and releasing mixtapes with a 20 year career? Lol

  10. Danzou July 12, 2016

    But in all seriousness, the RIAA has changed rules a couple times since it started. So yeah get wiry the times. If MILLIONS of people are listening to you then you should be reimbursed for your work HOWEVER I am ambivalent on the certifications aspect of it. I think labels are only certifying steamed albums for money.

    • SWISH July 12, 2016

      just curious .. what does a label gain financially for certifying an album?

  11. Mark111 July 12, 2016

    Artist that are not label slaves or in a 360 are fine. They will own the music and tour. I don’t feel sorry for the music industry at all. All those Jews ripped off so many artists for decades, now have to find a new source of income. Don’t think these label slaves in the top 40 are getting paid for their music. Why you think these EX Disney /Pop acts are selling everything like makeup and music videos are nothing more than product commercials. Labels are making money from tours and merchandises now, IF you’re in a 360.

  12. Mark111 July 12, 2016

    Rihanna and the Navi been telling y’all to get with the times. You pest are bragging and raving over 1.5 million copies. That’s nothing to brag about when Rihanna GAVE that amount out. Unless you’re Taylor, Adele, Justin Bieber,or Ed Sherman, sit down. Because the pest were calling 1.5 million a flop to Rihanna fans for years.

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016


    • BEY>RIH July 12, 2016

      But biitch she sold 1.5 million in 2 months. Anti sold…. in 5 months.

  13. LB July 12, 2016


    Streaming services will most definitely affect the middle man. I don’t think they’ll completely cut them off because record labels don’t really care about sales anymore. What they are focused on right now is to get as much exposure as possible since most if not all artists signed at the post Napster are on a 360.

    They want to get product in their music videos, get a percentage from merchandise, and sell arena tickets.

    But thanks to YouTube and Spotify, some artists will be able to go at it alone without the record label. Todrick Hall is able to do that, in addition to touring, and he has done pretty well for himself.

    • Surprise..(DEC 2013) July 12, 2016


      • LB July 12, 2016

        Get the f*** out of my reply section troll.

  14. LB July 12, 2016


    The only problem is that Radio is pretty much owned by a Monopoly and that still has a significant influence on the industry.

    So yes changes are expected but labels still have the infrastructure and reach, plus rights to catalogs which people still value. So they’ll still be around, they just won’t sign new artists off the bat, in order to get signed today, you need to do something like be famous on Vine, YouTube, X Factor or former Disney star.

  15. Hmmm… July 12, 2016

    Streaming is like me watching a concert on YouTube and claiming that it’s comparable to buying a ticket to the concert because I pay for the internet every month.

    • SWISH July 12, 2016

      lol it’s not but okay

      • Hmmm… July 12, 2016

        Lol, It is, but okay. Unless you’re willing to provide some sort of justification?

  16. jdek July 12, 2016

    *Collects tears with bucket labeled pest tears* loooool and They had the nerve to brag?bhahaha

  17. Mark111 July 12, 2016

    @Lb,very true.In my opinion, music righy now is better than ever. Rihanna is fine and that’s the only artist I care about. She worked her @ss off to get to this point.

  18. Fashion Icon ~ Anti&Limonade July 13, 2016

    So maybe all the major act should invest in their own streaming platform within their own official website and create their own app , so each artist can stream directly their own music in exclusive content only available in those platform for 5 months (in the first month the gain are important) , receive directly the fees and royalties then make it available on choosen “well know” streaming platform.
    Put the album on itunes after 1 week + physical release !

  19. Keri Qween July 13, 2016

    ANTI still top 5 in traditional sales this year. Impressive for the album they claim is a flop.

  20. Cops Give A Damn About A Negro. Pull A Trigger Kill A N**** He’s A Hero (Tyler) July 13, 2016

    Looks at Aunti’s traditional sales compared to all of the others lol.

    • Nigeria loves rihanna July 13, 2016

      Can’t u read, traditional sales ain’t ish anymore, streaming is now the power. Go to school & get education so that ur ass can read & understand. Y’all illiterate dumb ghetto hood rats.

  21. well well July 13, 2016

    i dunno. are cd’s dead?!? ofc. but is it self powned to allow streaming? it’s not a boost in sales if it’s replacing them. and the longer it runs the more you add. the thinner the coffee. somewhen they gon’ stop it. get back to sales. some people in the formula look real bad already.

  22. King B July 13, 2016

    Do you guys pay when watching Rihanna’s video on YouTube? No? That’s right. If you buy Lemonade for $18 means you pay to watch the videos. Don’t forget that, besides on the CD, the videos will be available on Youtube , means more money for Bey. While Rih only earn money from YouTube. 4 had 12 tracks and the price is so much lower and Lemonade only had 11 tracks. Who is so dumb to charge a price that will cause a loss and not a profit from it?

  23. King B July 13, 2016

    I don’t consider Forward as a track.

  24. ow Reddish tran ivy blokz Need UK timely Ukuyikiji July 13, 2016

    Nice adele made more then them other artists

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