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US music download sales dropped dramatically in 2014

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iTunes

Newly released statistics have revealed that music downloads in the US dropped dramatically in 2014.

While 2014 might, for some, go down as the year major pop artist Taylor Swift struck a damaging blow against music subscription services, the facts appear to tell a different story.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, US sales of downloaded albums dropped 9 percent in 2014, while sales of individual downloaded tracks dropped 12 percent.

It's not difficult to see where those listeners have gone. Use of streaming services like Spotify rose to 164 billion songs, which represents massive growth of 54 percent over 2013.

This has been augmented by a 52 percent growth in vinyl sales, though at 9.2 million records, it's not much of a contributing factor overall.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, though, the massive growth in music streaming subscription services hasn't meant a growth in music consumption overall.

Standard industry practice counts 1,500 song streams or 10 individual song downloads as an album sale. By that metric, music consumption hasn't changed significantly from 2013 to 2014.

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In other words, people may prefer the current unlimited streaming model to the MP3 purchases of yesteryear, but the added convenience and accessability is not growing the industry as many would have hoped. At least, not in the biggest market for such things.

These figures only relate to the US, so a complete global picture can't be drawn here. Still, it's a useful insight into the troubles faced by the wider music industry.

Prem Desai

January 2, 2015, 3:59 pm

In my opinion, Taylor Swift is losing out.

Not only can I not listen to her music on Spotify (some would argue it's a good thing!), but I absolutely refuse to buy any of her albums because I feel bullied into it.

Bye Taylor.

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