Report: More people got their music from streaming sources than anywhere else

nielsen 2016 music report golden voy
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If you listened to music last year (and let’s be honest, you absolutely did), chances are you streamed it. For the first time ever, streaming music services overtook digital sales of music in the U.S., according to Neilsen Music’s year-end report on the industry.

The music business saw “steady and consistent growth in 2016,” the report reads, and was largely “fueled by a 76 percent increase in on-demand audio streams.” That increase offset the decrease in actual music sales, which were particularly pronounced in the digital realm. Nielsen remains positive about the overall status of music in 2o16, however, and seems optimistic about years to come.

“The music industry continues to grow at a healthy rate, and 2016 showed us that the landscape is evolving even more quickly than we have seen with other format shifts,” said David Bakula, senior vice president of Music Industry Insights. “Thanks to the rapid emergence of new technologies and channels for discovery and engagement, consumers are finding and listening to more music in new ways.”

 Audio streaming comprised a whopping 38 percent of total listening in 2016, making it the single-most popular form of consumption. If people were buying albums, however (either digital or physical), they were most likely buying rock albums, the most loved genre when it came to sales. In terms of streaming, the most popular music genre is R&B/hip-hop, with artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Kanye West, Rihanna, and J. Cole leading the way.

Drake was far and away the most streamed artist of the year. With a total of 5.4 billion streams, he beat the next most popular artist (Future) by more than 2 billion streams.

But even as we embrace new technology when it comes to music listening, it looks like we’re also growing nostalgic for days of yore. For the first time in a decade, Nielsen pointed out, physical albums actually became a larger share of total album sales than they were in the prior year. In fact, vinyl LP sales grew to more than 11 percent of total physical album sales in 2016, and hit a record high with more than 13 million sales last year.

So get your Spotify account ready and dust off your turntable. The music is just getting started.

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