Streaming Now The Primary Method of American Music Consumption

Streaming is now the primary way Americans listen to music according to a year end report by Nielsen, replacing downloads of individual singles.

It’s official: according to a new year-end report released by Nielsen, over the course of 2016, streaming became the primary mode of music consumption in the U.S. Overall on-demand audio streams surpassed 251 billion in 2016 — a 76 percent increase that accounts for 38 percent of the entire music consumption market. Plus, “the on-demand audio streaming share [of total music consumption] has now surpassed total digital sales (digital albums + digital track equivalents) for the first time in history.”

Streaming is the public consciousness recognizing that most of what the mainstream music industry has to offer is disposable. The labels can’t even find or develop potentially good new talent anymore as due to gutting their artists and repertoire departments and what revenue they make flowing upwards towards executives and shareholders. Average consumers never possessed high-fidelity playback chains of dedicated gear to take full advantage of the compact disc and vinyl records anyway; they only had mediocre integrated receivers hooked up to poorly performing speakers and headphones. Furthermore everyone truly into underground or once underground music genres now digs deeper, purchasing releases with zero quality control which commonly have print runs of only a few hundred to a few thousand copies. Classical continues to do okay too as classical listeners still buy the physical album and tend to have marginally better equipment.

The recording industry envied metal for its fanatical fans. Metalheads buy an album and if they like it, tend to buy physical copies of everything else that the artist has released. Fans of mainstream genres do not do this and the recording industry has never been able to convince them to do so. The music industry has no idea when underground genres or movements will emerge. It has never been able to to popularize the more extreme ones (in aesthetics or music) without losing the original fan base that buys the albums.

What happens is the industry signs the initially successful acts, promotes them for a couple records, and then attempts to commoditize them into repackaged vocal driven pop music for a lowest common denominator audience featuring commonplace, melodic hooks listeners have heard before. Labels flood shelves, catalogs and distros with rehash bands too, hoping to take another ten bucks from the fans’ pockets and to offer a safer, more lounge music alternative for pretentious idiots who fancy themselves “adventurous”. What happens eventually is the genre artistically collapses as death metal did around 1993 and black metal merely a couple of years later.

The original fan base senses this sell-out, this genericization within a couple years, if not instantly in the modern era, whether the music is rhythm ‘n’ blues white-washed into rock ‘n’ roll, British invasion pop, harder blues rock, metal, punk, prog, disco, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, post-punk, speed metal, gangster rap, death metal, or black metal. A mere commodity that appeals neither to die hard underground fans nor mainstream radio listeners is all that remains as if boxes of sugared cereal filling a self. The only way to squeeze more “growth” from these corpses (think the financial version of hot dogs being industrially produced from pink slime) is consolidation into a major label operating on an economy of scale similar to supermarket “bread” isle junk food manufacturers and mediocre brewing conglomerates. Cheap, piss water music reissues and excuses to tour.

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12 thoughts on “Streaming Now The Primary Method of American Music Consumption”

  1. Vigilance says:

    Prozak you are obsolete son time to hang up the towel. Dan man take my hand and grab the wall we are the iron on which his cloth will fall.

  2. GGALLIN1776 says:

    One advantage of all this is the amount of good stereo equipment showing up in second hand stores for dirt cheap. I suppose their thinking is why bother with it all when they can just get a $20 iphone dock.

    I picked up a pair of bang & olufsen rl600’s for $7.95 in mint condition (sans stands but i can weld up a set). The receivers & amps are still a bit pricey but you can piece together a decent system for a couple hundred instead of a few thousand now. I think the b&o stuff (along with most other high end sound) ends up going for cheap because most numbskulls just think it’s off brand trash when it doesn’t say sony on it.

    1. Nice find. B&O tend to look better than they sound but for 8 bucks that’s a great deal.

      Yeah even if you go all new you can get a decent listening setup with something like a PC → Schiit Modi Multi-bit DAC (or an audio interface) → cheap passive preamp → JBL LSR 305 powered monitors for under 500 bucks.

  3. Necronomeconomist says:

    This is false:
    “Streaming is the public consciousness recognizing that most of what the mainstream music industry has to offer is disposable.”

    Streaming is motherfuckers making economically rational choice. The marginally better sound quality I think I’d get from Bang ‘n Olfusens (or whatever) doesn’t outweigh the massively greater cost I’d incur to get those.

    Put more simply: shit is free. SO SUE ME.

    Also false:
    “Metalheads buy an album and if they like it, tend to buy physical copies of everything else that the artist has released. Fans of mainstream genres do not do this and the recording industry has never been able to convince them to do so.”

    Brett, the boy Daniel Maarat is an alright wordsmith but a shitty conceptualiser.
    He makes too many broad propagandic statements, jingoistically supporting his every thesis but plainly opinion easily disproved. Your writing is better, so is Lance Viggie’s. D. Rosales too.

    Currently listening to [by STREAMING off YOUTUBE]:
    Avzhia “Shadows of the 4Est” Dark Emperors

    1. The sound quality is not marginally better with FLACs/CDs/LPs, it is unquantifiably so for reasons of depth, separation, and detail you would never understand as you’ve never personally experienced them listening to MP3s and YouTube videos. The metal heads who care the most about certain releases generally seek out the best sounding versions. Otherwise you would not see a thriving trade in original Bathory LPs worth hundreds of dollars.

  4. LostInTheANUS says:

    “The music industry has no idea when underground genres genres”
    I told you famalam, I told you I volunteer to proofread any articles (meaning that I’ll do it FOR FREE) and yet shit like this still happens. Why don’t you notice me, Daniel?

  5. jiij says:

    funny how you guys worship vynil to en up listenning to shity recorded darkthrone first albums.

    1. Rainer Weikusat says:

      You’re confusing two different things here: The medium used to record something is supposed to enable a good quality reproduction of the originally recorded music. A good analogue recording, eg, an LP, will end up being the most faithful in this respect. For a usual CD, 44.1Khz 16 bit stereo, that’s already a lot of information been thrown away because of the technology (high frequency point-in-time sampling instead continuous signal) and because of the limited precision. 24 bit are common for digital recordings but the 16 bit final output can only represent about 0.39% of the range of input values. Applying so-called “lossy compression” to the CD data makes matters worse because “lossy compression” means nothing but “throw away more data [believed to be expendable]”.

      That’s not related to you dislike of (say) the drum sound on “early darkthrone albums” on the grounds of it being different from the highly engineered pseudo-drumming you prefer/ have been conditioned to prefer.

      1. LPs are worse than the same mix on CD. Analog tape has a lower resolution than 16 bit PCM. You’re missing on how digital audio actually works. Watch the videos. Digital audio works as hearing is frequency limited and vinyl is even more so given the heavy high and low pass filtering.

        Darkthrone has always had real drums except for the kicks on Soulside Journey.

        1. Rainer Weikusat says:

          LPs are worse than the same mix on CD. Analog tape has a lower resolution than 16 bit PCM. You’re missing on how digital audio actually works.

          I know enough about it for my purposes. There’s also a venerable ‘holy war’ about this topic. Weren’t for convenience (smaller medium size, easier playback, capacity), I’d take an LP with halfway decent playback equipment over a CD any time. Subjectively (means ‘based on hearing experience’) LPs tend to be more muffled than CD, however, it’s usually possible to find an equalizer configuration resulting in a decent sound. But the lack of substance in the lower frequencies of a CD can’t be made up for. The information just isn’t there.

          Obviously, the time needed for working out an equalizer configuration which works ‘well’ for a particular LP is already a huge convenience drawback.

          1. CDs have better bass extension than LPs. All LPs are boosted a bit in the upper bass to compensate for the high pass filtering though so they can seem to have “more” bass. Have you ever wondered why vinyl kicks sound the way they do compared to real life and CDs, where they vary a ton?

  6. I know that there’s a desire to editorialize here, and that fact-based journalism is not really what you’re trying to accomplish; however, do you realize that outside of the fact that Streaming sales now represent the bulk of music consumption in America, EVERYTHING else you say in this article is unsourced, and basically made up out of whole cloth?

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