Last month, The Weeknd graced the cover of FORBES under an apt headline: Streaming Grows Up. He had amassed 5.5 billion streams in the past two years, second only to Drake, en route to a $92 million payday over the past 12 months--exemplifying the model of making one's music widely and cheaply available, then cashing in on the road.
"I really wanted people who had no idea who I was to hear my project," he said. "You don't do that by asking for money."
Today comes further confirmation of streaming's dominance in the music world. Nielsen released its latest annual midyear music report, and thus far in 2017, on-demand audio streams topped 184 billion, up 62.4% over the same time period last year. When video streams are added to the equation, the total soars to 284 billion streams, an increase of 36.4% versus the first half of 2016.
The gains in streaming have been more than enough to offset the continued decline of physical and digital sales: overall audio consumption has grown 8.9% despite a 17% dip in the former and a 19.9% drop in the latter.
“The first half of 2017 has seen some incredible new benchmarks for the music industry,” said David Bakula, Nielsen's SVP of Music Industry Insights, in a statement. “The rapid adoption of streaming platforms by consumers has generated engagement with music on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”