U.S. Music Fans Continue Shift to Streaming Services as Apple Readies Beats Revamp

Paid music downloads, which have dominated the digital music market for years thanks in large part to Apple's iTunes Store, showed accelerating weakness in the United States last year as music streaming services like Spotify and a resurgence of vinyl record sales exploded in popularity.

According to Nielsen SoundScan (via The Wall Street Journal), streaming music grew a remarkable 54 percent in 2014, moving from 106 billion songs in 2013 to 164 billion in 2014. That growth contrasts with traditional song downloads that dropped off significantly from 2013. Paid downloads for full music albums declined 9 percent in 2014, with individual song downloads seeing an even larger 12 percent drop-off. Overall, according to SoundScan, Americans bought 257 million albums in 2014, 106.5 million of which were downloaded digitally.

Screenshot (56)
Amid the digital shift from individual downloads to streaming, an older technology also saw a resurgence in 2014 with vinyl record sales at their highest levels since SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991. Nielsen's tracking shows 9.2 million vinyl records sold, representing a 52 percent overall increase in sales from 2013.

With lackluster overall digital music downloads mirroring a similar drop in iTunes Store sales, Apple has been looking at ways to improve its positioning in the music market. Apple's initial effort with iTunes Radio to offer a Pandora-like experience that also seeks to drive iTunes Store purchases has had a less-than-stellar reception with availability in only the United States and Australia. That weak entry likely spurred Apple to pursue last year's acquisition of Beats Music for a full-fledged subscription streaming service.

Recent reports have indicated that Apple will be pursuing a major revamp of Beats early this year that may see prominent integration of the paid streaming service into iOS and iTunes, perhaps including a rebranding under the iTunes name.

Top Rated Comments

randolorian Avatar
82 months ago
downloaded digitally

How else would they be downloaded? I'm wondering why downloadable movies, games, and music are being referred to as "digital" downloads as opposed to just "downloads" or something more sensible and less redundant.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rychiar Avatar
82 months ago
ugh just goes to show how little people these days care about music. I want to OWN the music i listen to and just have my albums as always
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
unobtainium Avatar
82 months ago
Its amazing how parents have failed to educate their children in regards paying for what amounts to a glorified radio station.

Are you referring to Spotify? Because that's not what it is. You can download and save any album to your devices. Their music catalogue has almost everything. The monthly fee is less than the cost of *one* album per month. What's not to like? Spotify is incredible.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jwdsail Avatar
82 months ago
I guess I'm old, or just don't get it...

I guess I'm old, or just don't get it...

I'll never understand "renting" music. I can't begin to see the appeal, I don't see any value.

If I want a semi-random stream of audio that I may or may not like, or be in the mood to listen to at any given moment, I already have that, it's called a radio... it's not dependent on an internet connection, and it's FREE.

I'll gladly pay to have the songs I actually like, stored on my devices, organized in playlists I can choose based on my mood, and not have to pay a monthly fee, and not be at the mercy of an internet connection and it's reliability (or lack of).

I can't begin to understand where anyone sees the value in the music rental business. Seems like flushing cash down the toilet to me.

Of course, I completely understand companies like Apple rushing to take money from suckers that are willing, hell eager even, to rent music.

Shrug.

Oh yeah..

And git off my lawn!
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Patriot24 Avatar
82 months ago
sure it is convenient but only if you are connected to the mothership and prepared to may thoe sometimes silly mobile data charges.

So you go to Europe on holiday and suddenly you are into hundreds of $$$ in roaming charges. Opps!
What price convenience now?

I travel all over the world. My music collection fits nicely on my iPod 64Gb.
Apart from the U2 freebie, I buy it all on CD.
Even better convenience methinks.
But there agaion, I'm not 21 any more. If I was, I'd have seen Hendrix's last gig on the Isle of Wight in the last 6 months. I'm clearly not the taget market for streaming and as long as the Music Moguls don't forget that in many western counties there will soon be more wrinklies than youngsters all will be fine.

There appears to be a lot of misunderstanding of how services like Spotify and Beats actually work.

If you need tracks available to you offline, you simply download them to your device and listen to them as desired. This is no different than syncing your iPod with tracks that you purchased in iTunes. The added benefit is that if there is a song you forgot to bring along you can get it at any time if you so choose. In our increasingly mobile world, this model is rich with value to a large percentage of the market.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zxxv Avatar
82 months ago
Its amazing how parents have failed to educate their children in regards paying for what amounts to a glorified radio station.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
apple event hashflag

Twitter Hashflag for April 20 Apple Event Goes Live

Tuesday April 13, 2021 2:21 pm PDT by
Following the overnight Siri leak and subsequent announcement that Apple will hold a media event on Tuesday, April 20, a new Twitter hashflag has appeared to help provide visibility for the event on the platform. For the last several recent events, Apple has utilized hashflags, which are little icons next to hashtags on Twitter, as a way to market its events. The company first started the...
macos catalina serial number

Apple Preparing Rollout of New Randomized Product Serial Numbers Ahead of 'Spring Loaded' Event

Wednesday April 14, 2021 2:08 am PDT by
Apple is advising its authorized premium resellers and dealers to prepare for new products with 10 and 12 digital serial numbers, days ahead of when it's expected to reveal a slew of new products. MacRumors previously reported that Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021. The company now seems to be preparing for that roll-out, telling...
iphone12cameras

Kuo: 2022 iPhones to Feature 48-Megapixel Camera, 8K Video, and 6.1 and 6.7" Sizes With No 5.4" Mini Option

Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:45 pm PDT by
The upcoming 2022 iPhone lineup will feature two 6.1-inch devices and two 6.7-inch devices, with no mini-sized 5.4-inch iPhone, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Two of the iPhones will be high-end models and two of the iPhones will be lower-end models, similar to the current iPhone 12 lineup. Apple introduced the 5.4-inch...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...