2019 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Streams

Don’t believe the hype. You might hear that “album consumption” grew 15% but that’s an arbitrary measurement made up by the industry and tweaked every other year to make business look healthy. The indisputable fact is that people are purchasing fewer albums than ever, and on top of that, nobody’s even measuring how many albums people are actually listening to.

Yes, they track streams. And streams are up. They track revenue, and that’s up too…at least for labels. (Ask an artist how revenues from their recordings are doing.)

But albums? Come on. Does anybody really believe that listening to the single ten times (or 1,250 times? or even 3,750 times?) is an equivalent experience to listening to the album? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe albums are just a marketing container to wrap around an artist’s current promotional cycle. Maybe it’s all about the singles and the licensing and the merch and the tour. Maybe I’m totally full of shit. But what’s even more full of shit is the idea that you can calculate “album consumption” with some convoluted formula. Who cares? Just look at the sales and streams.

Total U.S. Album sales (physical + digital in millions)

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2019: 112.75 million
2018: 141 million
2017: 169.15 million
2016: 205.5 million
2015: 241.39 million
2014: 257.02 million
2013: 289.41 million
2012: 315.96 million
2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 588.2 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 666.7 million
2003: 667.9 million
2002: 693.1 million
2001: 762.8 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 712.5 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million
1995: 616.4 million (I’ve heard the figure is 616,957,000)
1994: 614.7 million (I’ve heard the figure is 615,266,000)
1993: ~573 million (1994 was 7.4% increase over 1993)

Compact Discs

Compact Disc Sales (in millions)

2019: 54.19 million
2018: 70.7 million
2017: 88.2 million
2016: 104.8 million
2015: 125.6 million
2014: 140.9 million
2013: 165.4 million
2012: 193.4 million
2011: 223.5 million
2010: 239.9 million
2009: 294.9 million
2008: 360.6 million
2007: 449.2 million
2006: 553.4 million
2005: 598.9 million
2004: 651.1 million
2003: 635.8 million
2002: 649.5 million
2001: 712.0 million
2000: 730.0 million
1999: 648.1 million
1998: ~578 million
1997: 504.6 million
1996: 448.4 million
1995: 368 million

Digital Albums

Digital Album Sales (in millions)

2019: 39.3 million
2018: 53.4 million
2017: 66.2 million
2016: 82.3 million
2015: 103.33 million
2014: 106.47 million
2013: 117.58 million
2012: 117.68 million
2011: 103.1 million
2010: 86.3 million
2009: 76.4 million
2008: 65.8 million
2007: 50 million
2006: 32.6 million
2005: 16.2 million
2004: 5.5 million

Vinyl albums

Vinyl Album Sales (in millions)

2019: 18.84 million
2018: 16.8 million
2017: 14.32 million
2016: 13.1 million
2015: 11.92 million
2014: 9.19 million
2013: 6.1 million
2012: 4.55 million
2011: 3.9 million
2010: 2.8 million
2009: 2.5 million
2008: 1,877,000
2007: 990,000
2006: 858,000
2005: 857,000
2004: 1,187,000
2003: 1,404,000
2002: 1,339,000
2001: 1,246,000
2000: 1,533,000
1999: 1,405,000
1998: 1,376,000
1997: 1,092,000
1996: 1,145,000
1995: 794,000
1994: 625,000

Cassette albums

Cassette Sales (in millions)

2019:
2018: 219,000
2017: 174,000 source
2016: 129,000 source
2015: 74,000 source
2014:
2013:
2012:
2011: 31,000
2010: 21,000
2009: 34,000
2008: ~82,000 source
2007: 274,000
2006: ~1.128 million source
2005: ~2.667 million source
2004: 8.6 million
2003: 17.9 million
2002: 29.8 million
2001: 49.4 million
2000: 77.2 million
1999: 105.5 million
1998: ~130.8 million
1997: 146 million
1996: 166.7 million

Digital track sales

Digital Track Sales (in millions)

2019: 301.08 million
2018: 412 million
2017: 554.82 million
2016: 724.0 million
2015: 964.76 million
2014: 1.1 billion
2013: 1.26 billion
2012: 1.336 billion
2011: 1.27 billion
2010: 1.17 billion
2009: 1.16 billion
2008: 1.07 billion
2007: 844.1 million
2006: 582 million
2005: 352.7 million
2004: 142.6 million
2003: 19.2 million (SoundScan monitored them only during the year’s second half)

Song Streams *

Song Streams (in billions)

2019: 1.147 trillion (745.75 billion were audio-only)
2018: 901 billion (611 billion were audio-only)
2017: 618.03 billion (400.38 billion were audio-only)
2016: 432.2 billion (252.3 billion were audio-only)
2015: 317.2 billion (144.9 billion were audio-only)
2014: 164.5 billion
2013: 118.1 billion
2012: ~89.5 billion (calculated on reports that 2013 was up 32%)

* Non-interactive digital services like Pandora and Sirius XM are not included in the streams tracked by Nielsen Music.

Sources: 2019 (streams, pdf, vinyl, overview), 2018 (overview, vinyl, cassettes), 2017 (overview, vinyl, consumption, streams, sales, Nielsen), Billboard, Business Wire, Billboard, New York Times, Billboard, Billboard, Nielsen Music, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, USA Today, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, USA Today, Computer World, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, CTV, BBC, WSJ, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Pitchfork, Narm, Billboard.

We’ve been doing this for a while. See our previous annual sales wrap-ups: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

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