Music streams in the U.S. on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music experienced a 30% increase in 2019, resulting in a record-high end of the year total of over 1.15 trillion streams, according to Nielsen Music’s annual report

Since the popularization of streaming services began in 2008, the way people consume music has drastically transformed the industry. According to Nielsen, streaming services now account for 82% of music consumption in the U.S. While digital streams rose by 30%, sales on physical albums dropped by 19%. This means physical sold copies of albums make up less than 1/10th of overall music consumption. On top of this, even industry-leading companies like Billboard have had to make adjustments to their business model to accommodate the growth.

One factor into 2019’s record-high U.S. streaming is the number of high-profile releases from pop and rap’s most sought-after artists. The report attributes albums from Post Malone, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and Lizzo to be driving factors in the 14% increase in total album audio consumption. Additionally, rapper Post Malone, who broke various records after releasing his album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, ranked as 2019’s top artist in sales and streams. Drake was the only artist in the top five who had not released a full-length album during 2019. Despite this, Drake still ranked as the overall top-streamed artist of the year. 

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What a year for music 🙏

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Another driving factor for the high increase in audio streams was the rise of TikTok. The viral video-sharing app, similar to what was once Vine, played a large part in sparking viral hits. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which rose to popularity because of TikTok, became 2019’s most-consumed song with over 2.5 billion streams. On top of this, it had the longest run on Billboard’s Hot 100, beating out Justin Bieber’s “Despacito.”

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