This offers fairly strong evidence that streaming does indeed cannibalize downloads and traditional CD sales, at least for certain artists. According to initial sales reports on Metallica albums now surfacing, it appears that a groundbreaking inclusion on Spotify has negatively impacted pre-Christmas sales.
Billboard journalist Glenn Peoples, citing Nielsen Soundscan data, noted that mainline Metallica studio albums are suffering declines that are unusual for the period and closely coincide with the Spotify inclusion. Peoples used data from 2008-present as a comparison bed; Metallica announced the Spotify inclusion on December 6th.
“Based on the catalog’s performance in previous years, album sales were 15% below expectations the week the titles were added to Spotify and 35% below expectations the following week.
Sales were in line with expectations the week before the titles were added to Spotify.”
Peoples also noticed far softer week-to-week increases in the run-up to Christmas, of course a period characterized by frenzied shopping. This is what the pre-Christmas week has looked like for the past few years, in terms of percentage increases.
A breakdown between CDs and album downloads was not disected.