As it becomes easier and easier to access restricted music on the Internet, users have started to circumvent for-pay downloads in place of torrents and other secondary downloading websites. According to data from Nielsen Soundscan, paid song downloads dropped another 12.5% last year. Combining the statistics from the last two years, paid downloads have seen a whopping 23.4% decline as sources like iTunes and Amazon dip below a billion for the first time in eight years.
Factoring in “conservative” projections from Digital Music News, these numbers will only increase with time. 2017, they believe, will see a 25% drop in paid song downloads, reaching 40% by 2019. In 2021, they say, paid downloads will drop by nearly 95%.
As Digital Music News describes, the reason for the decline is an obvious one. Streaming sites like Spotify, Youtube, Soundcloud, and Apple Music have begun to dominate the online music market, with the total number of US music streams doubling to 317.2 billion just last year.
The real victims of this paradigm shift, however, will be the artists and record labels. Revenue earned from individual music streams is insignificant when compared to paid downloads. As fewer and fewer users remain loyal to the aging sources like iTunes, labels will almost certainly be forced to move their artists’ catalogues to streaming services. Because the convenience of the listener is beginning to trump the profit for the artists themselves, these changes will likely have a lasting effect on these smaller, independent record labels.
Source: Digital Music News