Subscription Streams Accounted for 85% of All Audio Streaming in Q4 2018

Subscription streaming is taking a surprising large piece of the audio-streaming pie.  But does that mean there’s a plateau ahead?

BuzzAngle Music has released its 2018 Year-End Report for the US music industry, and it’s got a few surprises.

On the unsurprising side, Drake and XXXTentacion topped the 2018 tally, part of a continued surge in rap and hip hop.  Actually, that’s part of a pretty serious surge in streaming overall, particularly audio-specific streams.

Audio on-demand streams set a new record high in the US of 534.6 billion total streams.  This number rose 42% over 2017, when audio on-demand streams reached 376.9 billion streams.

Total on-demand streams also set a new high last year with 809.5 billion streams, up 35% over 2017’s 598 billion.

And one of the more interesting takeaways came late in the year. During the fourth quarter of 2018, subscription streams accounted for 85% of all on-demand audio streams (157.4 billion), according to BuzzAngle’s data.

Subscription streams also grew 50% during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Music fans only streamed nine songs, however, more than 500 million times last year.

That number decreased from 16 in 2017, but rose from six tracks in 2016 and two in 2015.  BuzzAngle didn’t list the songs that went over 500 million streams.  But streaming obviously remains a very top-heavy platform, with a small number of winners taking most of the winnings.

Music fans streamed 417 songs more than 100 million times.  In 2017, that figure stood at 383 songs, six in 2016, and two in 2015.

Overall, the top 1,000 streamed songs accounted for 121.8 billion streams in 2018.  This number decreased from 122.2 billion in 2017, but increased from 2016’s 91.8 billion.

Song consumption last year also reached a new high of $5.8 billion, up 27% over 2017.

Breaking down industry trends by genre, Hip-Hop/Rap had the largest genre-share of total album consumption – 21.7%.  This number rose from 17.5% in 2017.

Pop and Rock followed with 20.1% and 14%, respectively.

For the third year in a row, Hip-Hop/Rap also emerged as the top genre in terms of total song consumption – 24.7%.

This number rose from 20.9% in 2017.  Pop had a 19% share two years ago, followed by Rock at 12%.

92% of the Hip-Hop/Rap’s total consumption came from on-demand streams, while only 3.7% came from album sales.

Drake was named BuzzAngle Music’s 2018 Artist of the Year.  He also had the top album by streams.  His hit single, ‘God’s Plan,’ was named top song by sales, top song by audio streams, and top songs by video streams.  Drake also emerged as the top artist by total digital consumption and song streams.

Breaking down industry trends by release period, deep catalog titles – those released more than three years ago – accounted for 55% of all album sales.  This number rose 4% from 51% in 2017.

For vinyl sales, deep catalog titles continue to make up the majority of album sales, climbing to 66%.

Nearly two out of every three songs streamed in the US were titles released more than 18 months ago.  Songs released more than three years ago composed 50% of all on-demand streams.

BuzzAngle named The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack the top album by album sales.  Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 emerged at the top album by vinyl album sales.  BuzzAngle also named The Beatles the top artist by physical album sales.

Under Top Indies, XXXTentacion’s ? emerged as the top indie album by total consumption.  His hit single, ‘Sad!’, became the top indie song by total consumption.  BuzzAngle also named XXXTentacion the top indie artist by total consumption.

You can view the full report below.