Nielsen has released its midyear music sales report and things are looking about how you'd expect: Streaming is way up, overall album sales are down, and the vinyl trend continues. Taylor Swift and Drake are among the few performers that can feel good about moving entire albums at this point.
Let's start with the most relevant news to the music industry right now: streaming. Compared to the same six-month period during 2014, the number of music streams is up by 74 percent...a huge total when you consider that the number of songs that have been played on services such as Spotify and Pandora comes out to around 135 billion. Even more staggering is the increasing popularity of music video streaming via Vevo and similar services...totaling an increase of 109 percent from last year. Literally more than twice as many music videos have been streamed this year over last.
Unfortunately, it seems to be a zero-sum game of sorts. Where streaming has continued to rise dramatically, album sales continue to decrease. Sales of compact sales are down 10 percent from last year, although digital albums sales is down a relatively acceptable 0.1 percent. Vinyl sales continue to rise at an impressive rate (38 percent) but for as trendy as the format is, it doesn't move nearly enough copies to make up the losses to CDs.
Swift has been the master of nearly every format with 1989. The album is the only song collection to crack a million in sales during 2015, moving 1.3 million copies on top of its 2014 platinum status. That total consists of most CDs sold, most vinyl copies sold (33,500 copies sold), and second most digital albums sold.
The only album to beat out Swift on the digital charts was Drake and his surprise If You're Reading This It's Too Late (thanks largely to only being available digitally for a lengthy period). Too Late will almost assuredly reach a million in sales by the end of the year, as it sits with 965,000 copies sold thus far. The 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack and Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly could arguably hit platinum status before the end of the year, with 727,000 and 627,000 copies sold thus far, respectively.