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Streaming music was twice as big in 2015

The number of US music streams nearly doubled last year, at the expense of downloads.

Jon Fingas , @jonfingas
01.07.16 in AV
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Nielsen just removed any doubt that streaming music is here to stay. The research group's end-of-year music report reveals that the number of on-demand US streams nearly doubled year-over-year in 2015, to 317.2 billion streams. Downloads unsurprisingly took a hit, with individual song sales diving 12.5 percent and whole albums dropping 2.9 percent. However, the sheer volume of streams appears to at least partly make up for the shortfall -- Billboard notes that the revenue is equivalent to 211.5 million purchased albums. While artists aren't necessarily getting all that extra money, it's a positive sign.

Dedicated music services like Spotify and Apple Music didn't play as big a role as you might think, though. There was more growth in music videos on services like YouTube, which isn't surprising when they're (usually) free and accessible from any semi-recent device with a web browser. Audio-only services might play a larger role in 2016 as Apple Music gets more established (it was only available for half the year) and Pandora makes use of its Rdio acquisition.

Some old habits die hard, too. Despite all the efforts to help you discover new tunes in streaming services, most people still hear about new music the old-fashioned way. Only 27 percent of people found music through the apps and sites themselves (13 percent in download stores). Meanwhile, 61 percent got the scoop from conventional radio. That's actually up from 57 percent in 2014, so it may be a long while before most Americans get their first listen online.

[Image credit: John Keeble/Getty Images]

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