Even with the knowledge that album sales have been steadily dropping for years, 2016’s album sales numbers so far have been shockingly bad. In fact, the first half of the year has 2016 on pace to be the worst year for sales since SoundScan started tracking them in 1991.
Even when including track-equivalent albums — where the sale of 10 individual tracks = 1 album sale — sales fell 13.6 percent from this same point last year with only 100.3 million albums sold. Those individual track sales are also dropping, down to 404.3 million from 531.6 million last year.
So where is the music-loving public going? To streaming, of course.
Music streaming is booming, with 208.9 billion songs streamed in the first half of the year, a 58.7 percent increase over 2015. 113.6 billion of those streams came from dedicated audio streaming services (Spotify, Apple), marking the first time that streaming music platforms have outperformed video sites like YouTube and Vevo.
If you are looking for bright spots — outside of the bank accounts of Adele, Drake and Beyonce, the year’s only million-sellers — take a look at your Local Independent Record Store. Vinyl sales continue to rise, up 11.6 percent over last year with 6.2 million albums sold.