Nielsen SoundScan have released their mid-year report on the music industry and the numbers make interesting, and in many cases positive, reading. Although both overall album sales and overall digital sales are down a little (4.6% and 2.6% respectively), the sale of vinyl has increased massively, with a 33.5% growth from 2012, which itself was a record setting year for vinyl sales.
Daft Punk, who’s Random Access Memories album was released in May, are leading the vinyl charge, with 32, 000 copies of their record purchased, while Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City some way behind in second with 20, 000 copies sold. Other popular records include both Mumford & Sons albums (the first of which was released in 2009), and efforts from Tame Impala, Atoms For Peace, and The National.
The biggest loser was the CD album, which saw a 14.2% decrease, although this is offset by a 6.3% increase in digital album sales, with Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience far and away the top selling digital album with 869, 000 downloads. Probably the most interesting statistics from Nielsen’s report are those regarding streaming, which was being questioned as a business model as recently as last week by Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich, who described Spotify as “bad for new music.”
Whatever your opinion, streaming’s explosive growth is undeniable. There have been over 50 billion combined audio and video streams counted by Nielsen already in 2013, a 24% increase from last year, with the ubiquitous “Harlem Shake” (on a whopping 438 million streams), “Thrift Shop,” and “Gangnam Style” the most streamed songs. Note: Nielsen do not include popular streaming service Pandora, which claims over 2oo million registered users worldwide.
Overall, the figures are fairly encouraging, whilst also serving to highlight what is certain to be a long and loud debate over the viability of the streaming business model and its benefits for artists and labels. You can see all the numbers for yourself here.