Music Hit 1 Trillion Streams in 2019, But Growth Is Slowing

Music Hit 1 Trillion Streams in 2019, But Growth Is Slowing

While streaming reached new highs, sales reached new lows.


Rolling Stone, Year End, Spotify. Apple Music

Just how big is music streaming? The format continued on its path toward total dominance in 2019, and kept up its years-long resuscitation of the music U.S. music industry. For the first time ever, on-demand streams in the U.S. reached over 1 trillion, according to a year-end report from Alpha Data, the data analytics platform formerly known as BuzzAngle that powers the Rolling Stone Charts.

Streaming’s growth drove overall album consumption up with it, up 13.5 percent year-on-year to 795.9 million album units. Overall song consumption, meanwhile, was up 21.1 percent to 7 billion units in 2019.

But it wasn’t all good news: CD sales and digital downloads tanked, and streaming’s growth — along with vinyl’s — is decelerating.

Source: Alpha Data/Rolling Stone Charts

As album and song sales dwindled, streaming did more heavy-lifting than it ever had before. Streams accounted for 84.6 percent of total album consumption in the U.S., its biggest portion to date. Album sales drove 11.7 percent of consumption — down from 17 percent last year — while song sales dropped from 7 percent to just under 4 percent.

Album units combine digital and physical album sales, digital song sales, and audio streams, using a custom weighting system. Song units combine digital sales and song streams. (Units were introduced in 2015 as a new way to measure consumption in the U.S. in the streaming era.)


By the Numbers: Billie Eilish’s Number One Album Was Miles Ahead Of Anyone ElseJust How Big Was ‘Old Town Road’ In 2019?

Streaming Reaches New Heights, But Growth Is Slowing 

Back in 2016, music streaming reached a tipping point of sorts when streams swelled to 432 billion and streaming became the primary source of music consumption in the U.S., according to Alpha Data.

That upward trend soldiered on in 2019. On-demand streams grew were up 24.8 percent from 2018 to 1.01 trillion. Streaming on services like Spotify and Apple Music saw the biggest boot, as on demand audio streams grew 32 percent to 706 billion. Video streams, meanwhile, were up 10.6 percent to 304 billion.

But that growth is starting to slow. Growth in on-demand streams was down nearly 30 percent from 2018, when streams saw 42 percent spike. Video streams saw a more drastic deceleration, growing 10.6 percent in 2019 compared to 24.3 percent in 2018, while growth in on-demand audio streams was down about 24 percent.

In turn, growth in streaming revenue has slowed, too: In the first nine months of 2019, Universal saw a significant deceleration in revenue growth from streams.  Many have wondered whether Netflix had already hit market saturation when the streaming service reported its first loss of subscribers in eight years. If growth keeps decelerating at this rate, music streaming’s own market saturation may be approaching.

Sales Plummet, But Vinyl Continues Double-Digit Growth

While streaming reached new highs, sales reached a dour new low. In 2019, album sales dropped below 100 million for the first time in Alpha Data’s history. 2019’s 93 million total album sales reflects a 23 percent decrease from 2018.

Digital downloads took the biggest hit, with song sales sinking 26.3 percent to 295.1 million. Only one song had more than 1 million song sales in 2019: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which was also the biggest song of the year. Digital album sales, similarly, were down 26.6 percent.

Source: Alpha Data/Rolling Stone Charts

On the whole, physical albums didn’t fare much better, falling 20.9 percent year-on-year to 55.7 million. Taylor Swift’s Lover was the top album by physical sales and the only album to surpass 1 million sales, according to Alpha Data. But to call these pure album sales would be a stretch. Lover’s sales were massively boosted by bundles, with CDs, vinyls and digital downloads offered as add-ons to T-shirts and sweatshirts. And amid plunging sales, bundling was more rampant in 2019 than ever. Most of the top-selling albums — like Harry Styles’ Fine Line and BTS’ Map of the Soul: Persona — were offered as bundles.


  1. Lover, Taylor Swift – 1.1 million
  2. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish – 595,000
  3. Happiness Begins, Jonas Brothers – 484,000
  4. Fine Line, Harry Styles – 453,000
  5. A Star Is Born: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – 438,000
  6. BTS Map of the Soul: Persona, BTS – 382,000
  7. Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone – 357,000
  8. Fear Inoculum, Tool – 344,000
  9. DNA, Backstreet Boys – 314,000
  10. thank u, next, Ariana Grande – 268,000

Bundles weren’t enough to prevent the tumble of CD and cassette sales, which fell 26 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

The only thing people did seem to pay for was vinyl, with LP sales seeing another year of double-digit growth — up 10.5 percent to 10.7 million. LP sales swelled to 19.2 percent of all physical sales, which according to Alpha Data is its biggest leap in five years. While there is certainly a nostalgia factor at play in the vinyl revival — it’s probably no coincidence its comeback coincided with the Polaroid camera’s — there were also many new releases that were among the top-selling LPs of 2019. Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? was Number One, and also saw over 2.3 billion on-demand audio streams in 2019.


  1. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish – 112,798 copies
  2. Abbey Road, The Beatles – 101,024 copies
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen – 78,600 copies
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, Various Artists – 69,924 copies
  5. Lover, Taylor Swift – 66,702 copies
  6. The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd – 64,018 copies
  7. Legend, Bob Marley & the Wailers – 62,325 copies
  8. Thriller, Michael Jackson – 59,553 copies
  9. Ultimate Sinatra, Frank Sinatra  52,104 copies
  10. Back to Black, Amy Winehouse – 49,231 copies

But, like streams, vinyl sales have also seen been decelerating. Back in 2015, vinyl sales spiked 53 percent, according to Alpha Data, and slowed to less than half that rate in 2016. If this deceleration continues, 2019 may mark the the format’s last year of double-digit growth.

Or perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now, the music industry can toast to another year of growth.

In This Article: Album Salesmusic industrymusic streamingRS ChartsVinyl

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Ozzy Osbourne Recruits Elton John, Post Malone For New Album

Slash and Tom Morello will also appear on the February release


Ozzy Osbourne will release his new album, Ordinary Man, on February 21st via Epic Records.

The album includes collaborations with Elton JohnPost Malone, Slash and Tom Morello, and was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Andrew Watt on guitars, Duff McKagan on bass and Chad Smith on drums.

“It all just came together,” Osbourne said in a statement. “Slash is a dear friend of mine, as is Elton. When I was writing ‘Ordinary Man,’ it reminded me of an old Elton song and I said to Sharon, ‘I wonder if he would sing on it?’ We asked and lo and behold, he agreed and sings and play piano on the song.”

He added, “It was a lot of fun to do though it’s a lot different from my other albums. We recorded it quickly, which I haven’t done since the first Black Sabbath album. This made it a different process, which I actually enjoyed.”

So far the musician has released two songs from the album, “Under the Graveyard” and “Straight to Hell,” which features Slash. Along with the news of the upcoming release, Osbourne has also shared “Ordinary Man,” a soaring ballad with John on piano.

Ozzy Osbourne?@OzzyOsbourne …3,02012:13 AM – Jan 10, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy930 people are talking about this

The album is available for pre-order now and includes an instant download of “Ordinary Man” with each pre-order. Ordinary Man will be available in a standard CD, deluxe CD, black vinyl, deluxe gatefold swirl color vinyl, picture disc and digital album.

In addition, all physical copies of the album will include a unique code that will allow the purchaser to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of over 300 Ozzy prizes, which include a meet and greet with Osbourne.

Osbourne’s last solo album, Scream, dropped in 2010.

In This Article: Elton JohnOzzy OsbournePost Malone

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Flaming Lips, Deap Vally Share Cosmic Track ‘Home Thru Hell’

Song will appear on collaborative outfit’s self-titled debut album, out in March


Jon Blistein

Deap Lips — the new collaborative project from Flaming Lips and Los Angeles rock duo Deap Vally — embark on a psychedelic odyssey on their new song, “Home Thru Hell.”

“Home Thru Hell” opens with revving car engines and a heavy guitar riff, but soon settles into a spacey stomp peppered with strange flourishes, from big bells to vocoder-drenched vocals. Deep Vally’s Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards share vocal duties, offering some cosmic introspection with some meta touches: “Oh I think I tried too hard to shut the mouth of doom,” the pair sing, “Taking all my wisdom from the flaming lips of youth.”

“Home Thru Hell” follows Deap Lips’ debut track, “Hope Hell High, which arrived last December. The band will release their self-titled debut album March 13th via Cooking Vinyl.

Dead Lips marks Deap Vally’s first album since 2016’s Femejism. As for the Flaming Lips, they released a new album, King’s Mouth, last year, while they also celebrated the 20th anniversary of their 1999 classic, The Soft Bulletin, with a limited edition reissue and an orchestral live album.

In This Article: Deap VallyFlaming Lips

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Morrissey Announces New Album ‘I Am Not a Dog on a Chain’

Singer recruits R&B great Thelma Houston for first single “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?”


MorrisseyMorrissey in concert at Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, Rochester Hills Michigan, America - 13 Sep 2019

Morrissey has announced a new album titled I Am Not a Dog on a Chain, the former Smiths singer’s first album of new material since 2017.

The singer first revealed the new LP through his Morrissey Central fansite in November, with Morrissey adding of his upcoming album, “… the very best of me … too good to be true … too true to be considered good…” Morrissey formally confirmed the album’s release Friday.

The 11-song album, recorded in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, and produced by frequent collaborator Joe Chiccarelli, is preceded by first single “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?” featuring R&B great Thelma Houston.

“One of the biggest joys for me in this business is getting the opportunity to collaborate with other top artists,” Houston said of the collaboration in a statement. “I love the challenge to see if what I do can work with what they’re doing. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I think the blend of what Morrissey is singing and what I’m singing really works on ‘Bobby.’ And it was a lot of fun working with M in the studio too!”

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain — out March 20th via BMG and available to preorder now — marks Morrissey’s first LP of original music since 2017’s Low in High School; the controversial singer also released his all-star covers album California Son in 2019.

In addition to the title track, the new album features very Morrissey song titles like “Darling, I Hug a Pillow,” “What Kind of People Live in These Houses?” and “My Hurling Days Are Done.”

As Morrissey Central notes, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain will fulfill Morrissey’s record contract with BMG, who plan to reissue a handful of the singer’s LPs in 2020, including Southpaw Grammar, Maladjusted, You Are The Quarry, Ringleader of the Tormentors, Years of Refusal and Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain Track List

1. Jim Jim Falls
2. Love Is on Its Way Out
3. Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?
4. I Am Not a Dog on a Chain
5. What Kind of People Live in These Houses?
6. Knockabout World
7. Darling, I Hug a Pillow
8. Once I Saw the River Clean
9. The Truth About Ruth
10. The Secret of Music
11. My Hurling Days Are Done

In This Article: Morrissey

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St. Vincent Puts a Futuristic Spin on Beck’s ‘Uneventful Days’

New remix inspired by Seventies Herbie Hancock, WAR, says St. Vincent


Jon Blistein

St. Vincent shared new remix of Beck’s “Uneventful Days” that transforms the track into a blast of future funk.

The original “Uneventful Days,” off Beck’s latest album, Hyperspace, is a spacey pop tune anchored by crisp drums. On her new remix, St. Vincent chops up the track and rearranges it into an effervescent groove, adding additional bass, keys and plenty of sticky guitar riffs.

“I guess I was listening to a lot of Seventies Herbie [Hancock] and WAR at the time and wondering how much funk was inside me, too,” St. Vincent said in a statement. “I sent it to Beck and he dug it, but he said, ‘It should be three bpm faster.’  And what do you know? He was so right. It made all the difference in the groove.”

Beck released Hyperspace last November, marking his 14th studio album and first since 2017’s Colors. At the moment, he has just one U.S. tour date on the books, an April 20th set at Pharrell’s Something in the Water festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

As for St. Vincent, she released her most recent solo album, Masseduction, in 2017, while last year she produced the new Sleater-Kinney record, The Center Won’t Hold. She’s also set to premiere a new filmThe Nowhere Inn, at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

Both Beck and St. Vincent were recently announced as performers for an upcoming tribute to Prince, which will take place after the 2020 Grammy Awards and air on television in April.

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How headphones are changing the sound of music

By Dan KopfDecember 18, 2019

Increasingly, listening to music is an intimate affair. Instead of filling a room with sounds from a stereo, more and more people stick tiny speakers directly into their ears. Due to the rise of cheap smartphones and streaming technology, phones and computers are now the top two devices used to listen to music, according to entertainment data company Nielsen, and headphones are the best way listen to music from your favored device.

This is changing the sound of music.

In his 2012 book How Music Works, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne posits that music composition and production are almost entirely dependent on technological context. For example, he explains that medieval European music was often harmonically simple because playing lots of notes at once sounded terrible in cathedrals, and that trumpets were common in early jazz because the instrument’s high frequency could be heard over a talkative audience. Today, keyboards have become the central instrument in music composition because it translates well to MIDI, the interface for digitizing music.

So, given that headphones are now so pervasive, what effect do they have on popular music? One important impact appears to be on vocals.

“Listening to music on headphones is very different to speakers where there is a temporal and spatial difference between you and the music,” says Charlie Harding, one of the hosts of the podcast Switched On Pop and co-author of a new book on music theory in popular music. Harding partially credits the success of podcasting to headphones: listening that way creates a feeling of closeness between the hosts and listener.

Similarly, he hears this in the singing of some pop artists, particularly Selena Gomez and Billie Eilish. “Their style of singing is almost like a whisper, as if they are right in your head,” he says. The recent single by Gomez, “Look at Her Now” is a perfect example according to Harding. Listen, specifically, to the way she sings so close to the microphone in the chorus:

“I think there is a way that people are thinking about how they are [recording] their vocals—it may be intentional or subconscious—but it really does feel as though its made to experience one on one in an intimate setting as opposed to in a giant theater,” Harding says. “It’s very different than like how they recorded Whitney Houston belting, which included all this reverb to make it sound big and epic and far away.” Other recent examples of whispered, close-miked vocals include Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” one of the most popular songs of 2019, and Lana Del Rey’s “The Greatest,” perhaps the best song of the year.

Another way headphones are changing music is in the production of bass-heavy music. Harding explains that on small speakers, like headphones or those in a laptop, low frequencies are harder to hear than when blasted from the big speakers you might encounter at a concert venue or club. If you ever wondered why the bass feels so powerful when you are out dancing, that’s why. In order for the bass to be heard well on headphones, music producers have to boost bass frequencies in the higher range, the part of the sound spectrum that small speakers handle well. This video made by production software company LANDR explains how and when producers choose to boost bass frequencies:

Producers are increasingly mixing music for smaller speakers and the relatively low sound quality that comes from streaming music. Jeff Ellis, producer of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, makes a point of testing how songs sound on smartphone speakers and headphones because he knows this is how most people listen to music now.

Byrne notes in How Music Works that headphone listening might also lead people to choose music that is more personal. While listeners might be worried about playing emotional or overtly erotic music on speakers others can hear, they might not worry as much when they are listening via headphones. It is hard to measure this, but the music of DrakePost Malone and the late Juice WRLD features lots of confessional inner dialogues. Of course, soul-bearing themes appear in music across the generations, but the rise of headphones may have encouraged more of this genre in the modern day.

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