The Nielsen Music U.S. Mid-Year Report confirms that streaming is still on the rise, with weekly on-demand audio streams surpassing 7 billion for the first time ever, during the week ended March 9. On-demand audio streams have reached over 184 billion streams so far in 2017, a considerable 62.4% increase over the same time period in 2016. Meanwhile, overall on-demand streams (including video) have surpassed 284 billion streams this year, an increase of 36.4% over the same period in 2016. There was however a decrease in album sales (-18.3%), album sales + TEA (track equivalent albums) (-19.9%), digital album sales (-19.9%) and physical album sales (-17%), highlighting consumer listening habits and an industry focus on single releases. Total audio consumption (albums + TEA + Audio on-demand SEA) is up 8.9% over last year.
The top streaming on-demand song (audio and video combined) is Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” followed by Migos’ (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) “Bad and Boujee” and Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s (feat. Justin Bieber) “Despacito.”
“The first half of 2017 has seen some incredible new benchmarks for the music industry,” said David Bakula, SVP of Music Industry Insights. “The rapid adoption of streaming platforms by consumers has generated engagement with music on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the leading album in total volume this year with total activity of more than 1.77 million units (albums, track equivalent albums and audio on-demand streaming equivalent albums combined) and held the number one spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks. DAMN. is followed by Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) with 1.74 million units and Drake’s More Life with 1.69 million units. Drake’s release of More Life on March 18 set a record for audio on-demand streams in one week, with its tracks earning a combined 385 million streams, beating the record held by his previous album, Views, which logged 245 million streams in its first week for its songs.
The biggest song at the mid-year point, in terms of total song consumption (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio) is “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran with 4.53 million units. The track also tops the Digital Song Sale charts with over 2 million downloads sold so far this year.
Super Bowl LI in Houston proved that the biggest day in American sports is still a boon for its halftime performers. Following her halftime performance, Lady Gaga saw a massive 1,580% lift in digital track sales over the previous week, as well as increases of 844% in albums with TEA and SEA (Streaming Equivalent Albums) and 210% for overall on-demand audio streams. Sales of Gaga’s album Joanne grew 814% with TEA and SEA in the week following the Super Bowl, compared to the prior week.
The Grammy Awards also proved to be a catalyst for engagement, with many of the artists who performed seeing considerable lifts in sales and streaming during the week following the awards. The songs performed at the Grammys added 319,000 song sales and nearly 21 million on-demand streams. Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book led all album on-demand streams with a unit increase of over 15 million; Adele’s 25 was a distant second with a unit increase of over 5 million on-demand streams. Prince was the single-most streamed artist, with an increase of over 16 million on-demand streams (5500% increase). Chance the Rapper followed close behind, with an increase of just under 16 million on-demand streams (84% increase).