Streaming continues to power a boost in album units and revenue.
For those willing to equate “total album consumption units” with good old-fashioned sales, at 411 million units in the first three quarters of 2016, the U.S. music industry appears set to enjoy its most robust year since 2009. By that metric, which combines sales with track- and streaming-equivalent units (with 10 track sales or 1,500 streams equaling one album, respectively), the industry is almost at 2013’s total of 415.4 million albums and is on track to pass 2009’s 489.8 million albums (both include TEA).
The third quarter’s total is 5.3 percent higher than the 390.1 million units counted at the same time in 2015 -- and the RIAA’s midyear report found that on a dollar basis, the industry was up 8.1 percent over 2015 to $3.43 billion. Dividing the album-plus-TEA pie by distribution ownership, Universal Music Group remains on top but drops four percentage points to 34.7 percent from the same period in 2015, while Sony Music jumps to 28.4 percent from 27.2, and Warner rises to 21.7 percent from 19.3.