Statistics released by market experts Nielsen show that song downloads between January and the end of September 2015 are down almost 100 million on the same time period in 2014.
Extrapolation of the figures suggested the year end differential might be around 120-130 million downloads.
The decline, from nearly 850 million downloads last year to 755 million this year, coincides with a huge increase in song streams across the same period. While 118 billion tracks were streamed in the first nine months of 2014, 232 billion streams took place until the end of September this year.
Tidal and Apple Music have come into the crowded streaming market over the past year or so, with both taking a more curated approach to music streaming.
Full packaged album downloads remain at about the same level, according to Nielsen, despite the growing success of streaming services.
Streaming’s success in terms of numbers hasn’t converted as convincingly into cash, however. Recent figures revealed that vinyl sales in the US now surpass the total commercial value of streaming services. The first half of 2015 saw a 52% increase in vinyl sales compared to the same time last year.
Data analyst Joshua Friedlander told Digiday of the vinyl vs streaming news, “Overall, the music industry has become the most-digital in terms of all traditional media outlets – magazines, newspapers – in terms of transition”.
“There is more optimism out there than there was. Two-thirds of the market is still physical [CDs]. It used to be monolithic. Now it’s a mix of things, a revenue diversification that makes a more stable source to grow off of.”
“[Streaming] services have mostly grown through word of mouth. There hasn’t been a big Spotify advertising push. When you get a player like Apple involved, that really generates a whole new level of awareness.”