The popularity of streaming music services like Spotify and Rdio appears to be cutting into actual sales of digital music.
Sales of digital music -- both single tracks and full albums -- fell in 2013 for the first time since the 2003 launch of iTunes, according to data released by Nielsen SoundScan Jan. 2. Sales of individual tracks were down 5.7% from 2012 while sales of full albums were down 0.1%.
"When you talk about sales and revenues and the consumption of music, you have got to get your head around the fact that somebody pays a subscription to a music service and that is a sale." Jim Donio, Music Business Association president
Further evidence that traditional downloads are on the downswing emerged on Jan. 24 when data from Nielsen SoundScan showed that, in the first three weeks of 2014, individual track downloads are down 11.9% and full album downloads are down 13.3% compared to the same time period in 2013.
Digital album sales were down despite several high-profiles releases in 2013, including albums from Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry (pictured). Beyonce's album, released exclusively on iTunes Dec. 13, was the second best selling album of the year with 972,000 units sold.
The decline in digital music sales in 2013 is being attributed to the rise in popularity of streaming music services which typically charge around $10 per month for unlimited, ad-free music that's available on mobile devices and computers. Ad-supported free tiers are also available.
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