People are streaming more and more music—and more frequently paying for the privilege—while digital download numbers continue to tumble.
The report, a follow-up to the company's July mid-year study, reveals that 2017 saw an over 50 percent increase in streams, to 377 billion. Of those, 80 percent come from subscribers—an increase of 4 percent from 2016.
Downloads, on the other hand, made up a smaller percentage of the market than in the past. Album and song sales overall fell by 14.6 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively. That decline is due mostly to digital downloads, as physical sales declined by a much smaller margin thanks to vinyl continuing to be hip.
As a mark of how bad things are for downloads, there were more than twice as many streams in an average day in 2017 as there were digital downloads all year: 1.67 billion to 563.7 million. In fact, only two artists managed, in pure sales, to move over a million units of an album this past year: Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Sheeran also had the year's top overall album, with ÷ selling the equivalent of 2.6 million copies when both sales and streaming are factored in.
The one-percenters in the music industry did great, with the top 1,000 songs accounting for about a third of the overall streaming total, taking 33 percent more of the market than the year before. Several songs, when YouTube plays were counted, broke a billion streams. However, Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" was the most popular song when only audio streams were counted. Drake, unsurprisingly, was the most-streamed artist, breaking 6 billion streams for the second year in a row.