Music Streaming Services are Killing Digital Download Sales but Vinyl and CDs still Outpaced Them

Digital music download sales are down, for both single tracks and albums, as CDs and vinyl record more purchases but show an overall decline…

Individual song download sales have fallen precipitously for some time now. With music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, iHeart, Google Play Music and more, people just aren’t purchasing single tracks.

Now, a new report by the Recording Industry Association of America or RIAA, helps quantify the decline. 

Digital Music Downloads Experience Sharp Decline along with Physical CDs and Vinyl Sales

Total music downloads for single tune sales in 2018 decreased by nearly 30 percent, to just over $1 billion for the year. Meanwhile, full-album digital purchases declined by 25 percent.

Contextually, that represents over 40 percent of the music industry’s revenue for the year 2013. By comparison, digital sales fell by 11 percent.

However, physical media sales, which include CDs and vinyl, dropped by 23 percent but totalled $1.15 billion. Although both are declining, physical media slightly beat-out digital purchases.

Just last year, consumers bought almost $420 million vinyl records, which is near parity with full album purchases from Apple in 2018.

Contrary to these trends, streaming music services increased in popularity, the RIAA says:

“Revenues from streaming music platforms grew 30% year-over-year to reach $7.4 billion, contributing 75% of total revenues for 2018, and accounting for virtually all the revenue growth for the year.”

Music streaming services grew 42 percent compared to 2017, surpassing 50 million for the first time. Physical media sales feel by 23 percent. In fact, CD sales dropped by 34 percent last year to $698 million. This is the first time yearly CD revenues have come in below $1 billion since 1986.

Savannah Marie

Savannah Marie loves writing and all things social media. She writes on a variety of topics, from social media to health and wellness to travel and all points in between! She is the lead writer and creator of Mixios and blogs with style and a one of a kind voice.