For the third straight year, the U.S. music business is not only growing, it’s growing faster, as overall consumption hit 636.7 million equivalent album units in 2017, up 12.5 percent from 566.1 million in 2016, according to Nielsen Music. And once again, streaming is driving that growth: Overall on-demand streams reached 618 billion, up 43 percent, equating to 412 million streaming-equivalent album units, up from 432.2 billion streams, or 288.2 million SEA, the year prior.
Audio on-demand streams grew 58.7 percent to 400.4 billion, up from 252.3 billion in 2016, while video on demand grew to 217.7 billion streams, a 20.9 percent increase over the prior year total of 180 billion. With that, the U.S. industry produced its first 1 billion-stream song in a single year, as Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (featuring Justin Bieber) hit 1.3 billion total on-demand streams in 2017.
Digital-album and CD sales both dropped 19.6 percent, to 66.2 million and 88.2 million copies, respectively, and track sales (554.8 million, down 23.4 percent) also continued to fall, though vinyl once again ticked up, growing 9 percent in 2017 to 14.3 million. But growth in the consumption business model is outpacing the 19.2 percent decline in album sales plus track-equivalent albums (down to 224.6 million units in 2017), a welcome change from the last format shift when downloads didn’t grow as fast as the decline in CDs. That means digital’s share of album consumption grew to 83.8 percent in 2017, up from 78.2 percent the year prior, with physical falling to 16.2 percent from 21.8 percent in 2016.