Nielsen: Streaming Up 32% In 2013, Digital Album Sales Steady
January 8, 2014

Nielsen and Billboard have released their annual U.S. Music Report, looking at music consumption in 2013. While the overall album and single sales figures were revealed last week, the full report shows that overall music streams were up 32 percent last year, to 118.1 billion. Nielsen calculates the figure via data from AOL, Cricket, Medianet, Rdio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Spotify, YouTube/VEVO and Zune.

"Despite shifts in how music is consumed, we see continued growth in overall music consumption," says David Bakula, SVP of Industry Insights for Nielsen Entertainment. "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. 2013 was also great year for creative album release events."

Overall music sales fell by 6.3 percent last year, to 1,556 billion units from 1,661 billion in 2012. Overall album sales, including "track equivalent albums," added up to 415.3 million, a 7.7 percent drop from 450 million in 2012. Total album sales fell eight percent to 289.4 million units, as CD sales slipped by 14 percent to 165 million. Digital album sales remained flat at 118 million, while vinyl sales spiked by 33 percent to 6.1 million in 2013. Total physical music sales dropped by 13 percent to 172 million. Digital track sales declined by six percent to 1,259 billion, from 1,336 billion a year earlier.

Most genres of music saw a drop in sales in 2013, with the exception of Classical (up 4.9 percent), Rap (up 2.2 percent) and R&B (up 1.2 percent).

As previously reported, Justin Timberlake's comeback record The 20/20 Experience was the best-selling release last year, and "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke was the best-selling tune of 2013. JT sold 2.43 million copies of The 20/20 Experience last year, which Billboard reports was the only record to sell over two million copies last year. It was also the least-selling album to end up at #1 for the year in the SoundScan era. The previous record was held by Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III in 2008. The 2013 sales tracking year ran from December 31, 2012 to December 29, 2013. Thicke's massive hit "Blurred Lines" sold 6.5 million copies throughout the year to top the chart.

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Mark Adams
San Francisco

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