Six notable music buying trends for the first six months of 2019

Six notable music buying trends for the first six months of 2019

Words by Christie Eliezer

Rap and R&B still dominate the world.

Data measurement company Nielsen Music’s 2019 mid-year report tracks music consumption in the US between January 4 and June 20. But as buying patterns are similar to Australia’s, it is interesting to see what’s happened so far this year.

Streams spill over

There’s been a record 507 billion on-demand audio and video streams. Audio streams went north by 27.8 per cent, from 261.0 billion in the first half of 2018 to 333.5 billion this year. Video streaming had a better showing, growing 39.6 per cent to 174.2 billion from 124.7 billion.

TikTok & Fortnite make sales

With TikTok’s 500 million monthly users in 150 countries (and setting up an Australian office), there’s little wonder it plays a big role in music. Nielsen says “No emerging app helped break more songs in 2019 than TikTok.” Among the hits it broke are Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ (1.3 billion total on-demand streams year-to-date), Ava Max’s ‘Sweet But Psycho’ (310 million), and Joji’s ‘Slow Dancing in the Dark’ (165 million). Artists trying out new platforms were also rewarded. Marshmello’s Joytime II sales pole-vaulted by 316 per cent after his “gig” on interactive game Fortnite.

Up Periscope

There was a 13 per cent growth in sales of “equivalent album units” which combines streaming, physical and digital sales. Biggest sellers of 2019 were Ariana Grande, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Halsey, Khalid, BTS, Bad Bunny and the A Star Is Born soundtrack. The most played song so far is Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ while Grande’s Thank U, Next leads album sales. But album sales dipped a further 20 per cent to 67 million units from 83 million last year.

Rap & R&B still rule

Of the Top 10 artists in the on-demand audio category, eight were rappers or R&B singers. Drake was the most in-demand with 2.7 billion streams). He was followed by Ariana Grande (2.6 billion), Post Malone (2.3 billion) and Billie Eilish (2.2 billion), along with rap squad Juice Wrld, XXXTentacion and YoungBoy Never Broke Again.

Scandal in the wind

Scandals didn’t affect the loyalty of music fans. Despite Leaving Neverland, Michael Jackson’s on-demand streams moonwalked up 41 per cent. Despite Surviving R. Kelly, the Chicago R&B singer’s streams were up 13 per cent from the same time last year. The jury’s still out on how much of Motley Crue’s Netflix movie The Dirt is accurate, true or just plain embellished, but their streams went skyward by 683 per cent.

Billie Eilish’s vinyl fetish

The US market grew 9.6 per cent to 7.72 million vinyl albums. Not surprisingly, the Top 10 stax’o’wax list was topped by Queen in the first two spots, and expected classics from Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Fleetwood Mac. But there are two from 17 year old newcomer Billie Eilish: the current When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? at #4 and 2017’s Don’t Smile at Me at #10.