Subscriptions are selling
Over the course of 2016, streaming services had an average of 22.6 million subscriptions -- which means the number was higher than that by the end of the year. (That number was just 10.8 million in 2015.) That implies that about 10 percent of U.S. adults now subscribe to a streaming service, although multiple people may be using each account.
As streaming takes over, download sales are declining faster than physical ones -- by 21.6 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively. That’s the fastest decline yet for download sales. Interestingly, though, revenue from singles sales is declining faster -- by 24.1 percent, while album downloads are down just 19.6 percent. For a format that was criticized for uncoupling singles from albums (the ability to purchase individual tracks rather than a full album), the fact that singles are declining at a higher rate than albums is surprising.
The vinyl revival is slowing -- but more important for stores
After several years of staggering growth in vinyl sales -- including a 32 percent increase in 2015 -- revenue from the format grew just 3.7 percent in 2016. Even so, since sales of CDs fell 20.9 percent, vinyl now accounts for more than a quarter (26 percent) of the revenue from physical sales.
Streams are worth more than ever
Not only is streaming revenue growing -- so is the average per-stream royalty. In 2015, the average per-stream royalty fell from $0.00666 to $0.00517, according to a Billboard analysis of statistics from the RIAA and Nielsen Music. Last year that number rose to $0.0072. Although it’s difficult to calculate the per-stream rates paid by individual services, a rise in the average rate -- presumably driven by a rise in subscriptions -- bodes well for the future of the format.