Coming out of a period where many acts held onto their new music during the pandemic, there’s been a flood of fresh releases in 2022. But according to a new report, the popularity of new music releases is actually on the decline. This is according to Music Business Worldwide, who broke down some of the key statistics within Luminate Data’s 2022 mid-year U.S. report.
According to the recent report, the “Total Album Consumption” of “current” recorded music in the U.S. for the first half of 2022 fell 1.4 percent in volume when compared to the same period of 2021.
Further breaking that down, it’s important to note that the “Total Album Consumption” metric equates 1,250 premium streams or 3,750 ad-supported streams to a solitary album “sale.” It also equates 10 digital track purchases or downloads to an album “sale.” And “current” is defined as anything released in the 18 months prior to the release being streamed, downloaded or purchased. Anything beyond the 18 month mark is considered a “catalog” release.
Within the report, Luminate credits 131.3 million album sales equivalents of “current” music over the period. This total was down nearly two million units over the 133.1 million recorded in the first half of 2021. Meanwhile, Total Album Consumption of all music in the U.S. (a combination of “Current” and “Catalog”) was actually up by 9.3 percent from 2021, hitting 475.4 million, which shows the strength of “Catalog” releases where buying/streaming behavior is concerned.
To further drive home the point, “current” music saw a decline, while “catalog” music was up by 14 percent over the 2021 total, with 344.1 million units credited. The Luminate report also shows that “catalog” music accounted for 72.4 percent market share within this year’s first quarter, while the “current” music was down 3 percent, with just 27.6 percent of the share.
It’s also notable that the trend is not something new. The 2021 report showed that over the course of the year, the 269.5 million units consumed of “current” music was down 3.7 percent on the 279.9 million units consumed in 2020.
Looking deeper into potential reasons for this, the decline of the CD format does not appear to be a major factor. As Music Business Worldwide notes from the Luminate report, the volume of on-demand current audio streams of “current” music fell 2.6 percent year over year, while the number was even more significant for video streaming platforms, where the volume dropped 10.4 percent. Meanwhile, “catalog” music streaming saw a 19 percent increase in the first half of this year.
In their attempt to interpret the findings, Luminate notes, “This trend is evident in the measurable decline in ‘high impacting’ new releases overall, which are defined as [any] album that debuts on the Billboard 200. In Q2 of 2021, there were 126 ‘high impacting’ releases. By the end of Q2 of 2022, there were only 102.”
And focusing on popular tracks, MBW shows through their research that the Top 10 audio streaming tracks in the first half of 2022 were played cumulatively over one billion times less than they were in the first half of 2019.
While there are several breakout stories of “catalog” songs finding success in 2022, such as Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” due to their Stranger Things placement, or Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” tied to The Batman film, much of the catalog music success is actually a bit more recent. According to the Luminate first half data, over a third of the “Catalog” streams were from music released between 2017 and 2019.
So while the statistical data shows a greater consumption of older musical material at present, the drop in “current” music releases consumption is definitely noteworthy.
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