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Why Kids’ Music Sales and Streaming Growth Appears To Be Declining (It’s Not)

The U.S. market share for children’s music was approaching 1.4% in the first quarter of 2020 until a change in Billboard’s methodology for counting video streams more than halved it

After three years of vacillation, the children’s music genre was on track to post its third consecutive market-share gain in 2020, for the measurement period of Jan. 3 to April 2, with its largest percentage increase in five years: 1.39% in combined sales and streaming. On April 9, however, Billboard and Nielsen Music/MRC Data streamlined the methodology they use to count on-demand audio streams to match the data verification parameters applied to on-demand video streams. As a result of this revision, the children’s music genre lost over half of its market share.

What would have been a 1.39% share of the U.S. market so far this year is now 0.62% for that period, according to this new methodology. Within that total, on-demand streaming of children’s music would have registered a 1.33% market share for that same period — compared with 0.57% for the entirety of 2016. Under Billboard’s new video streaming rules, however, the revised market share for first-quarter 2020 is 0.47%. Those numbers could rise if schools remain closed and families continue to shelter at home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the methodology change, a Nielsen Music/MRC Data analysis reported 15% growth in children’s music streaming after the first few weeks of virus-related lockdowns in the United States. With the modification, the increase isn’t as dramatic: the children’s genre is now up 5.5%.