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Nielsen: Streaming Dominated Music Consumption in 2013

8 Jan, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Unit sales of music CDs declined while old-school vinyl albums increased 33%

The transition from physical to digital consumption in the music industry has been in effect since Napster and the launch of iTunes. New year-end 2013 data from Nielsen Entertainment found that music streaming from subscription services and related online sources topped 118 billion streams — up 32% from 2012.

Nielsen, which includes chart data from subsidiary Billboard, reported that overall sales of albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks dropped 6.3% to more than 1.5 billion units.

Physical music sales, which include music CDs, LPs and cassettes, declined 13% to 172 million units. Digital tracks (as sold on iTunes) fell 6% to 1.2 billion units. Notably, vinyl album sales increased 33% to 6.1 million units.

"Despite shifts in how music is consumed, we see continued growth in overall music consumption,” David Bakula, SVP of industry insights for Nielsen Entertainment, said in a statement. “With more than 118 billion streams in 2013 reported by our data providers, which is the approximate revenue equivalent of 59 million albums purchased, the industry remains vibrant as consumption continues to change and expand.”

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