Streaming music in U.S. up 93 percent in 2015; Adele tops album sales

Wed Jan 6, 2016 4:01pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. music consumers almost doubled their use of streaming services in 2015, with Apple Inc's new Apple music platform helping boost volume a record 93 percent, Nielsen Music said on Wednesday.

Music consumers used on-demand streaming platforms to listen to 317 billion songs, exceeding projections. Physical album sales declined again, with British singer Adele's "25" providing a bright spot in an otherwise dreary market.

"The amount of exposure Apple gave to streaming can't be understated," said David Bakula, senior vice president of industry insights at Nielsen Entertainment.

About 241 million albums were purchased last year, a 6 percent drop from 2014; 103 million albums were bought in digital formats and nearly 12 percent of all albums were bought on vinyl.

Rock music accounted for a third of the albums sold over 2015, while pop music dominated singles.

But while streaming dominated the music industry with large-scale platforms including Google Play, Amazon Prime Music and Spotify, two of the year's biggest-selling albums, Adele's "25" and Taylor Swift's "1989," were strategically kept off streaming services.

Adele's "25" smashed opening week sales records in November and has clocked a total of 7.4 million albums sold by year end. Taylor Swift had the second biggest-selling album of the year with her "1989" record selling just under 2 million copies.

"What works for Adele and Taylor Swift doesn't necessarily work for everyone else," Bakula said, suggesting the two were exceptions to the rule and that most artists still turned to streaming for a part of their sales.   Continued...

Adele performs "Rolling in the Deep" at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 12, 2012.     REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni