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Streaming Now Officially the Number One Way We Listen to Music in America (pitchfork.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: It's official: according to a new year-end report released by Nielsen, over the course of 2016, streaming became the primary mode of music consumption in the U.S. Overall on-demand audio streams surpassed 251 billion in 2016 -- a 76 percent increase that accounts for 38 percent of the entire music consumption market. Plus, "the on-demand audio streaming share [of total music consumption] has now surpassed total digital sales (digital albums + digital track equivalents) for the first time in history." Nielsen's data is in line with others' findings.
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Streaming Now Officially the Number One Way We Listen to Music in America

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  • by Chmarr ( 18662 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @01:21PM (#53634749)

    ,,, but iTunes is an interface abomination.

    • Which is a crying shame since the reason to use it in the first place (or more technically, its predecessor, Soundjam) was the clean, easy to use interface.
    • by npslider ( 4555045 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @01:35PM (#53634909)

      I'll second that notion. Apple needs to return to it's roots of software that 'simply works'. I stopped using iTunes years ago.

      • Agreed. The newer UIs really suck.

        I made the mistake of upgrading my iTunes once. It was awful in that it wouldn't provide lists of songs. Just big icons of albums which required lots of effort to collate.

        I downgraded my iTunes and it wasn't easy. 'Had to remove all Apple related programs (including Quicktime). Had to edit files.

        PITA.

        I stream music via TuneInRadio and Pandora. For my stuff, I use an ipod. If I want "cloud music", I use Amazon. I never buy music via iTunes because I prefer the .mp3 f

    • the problem is that you purchased your music on iTunes.

      • by Chmarr ( 18662 )

        Actually no... some of it purchased there... but the vast majority are rips from CDs and from Amazon as MP3s.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They have no clue how much I listen to my ripped music.

      • This is actually an excellent point. I did not, of course, RTFA, but how does one go about comparing streaming to CD / ripped audio / over-the-air radio / cable audio stations? I will agree that anecdotally it seems that streaming is likely to be more common, but to make the claim requires empirical evidence.
        • If CD sales are going down, nobody's buying CDs to rip. Yeah, a lot of people have pre-existing libraries and just don't want newer music - but that is only a certain age range that would have bought CDs in the past.

    • ,,, but iTunes is an interface abomination.

      I'll second this. I bought a couple of music videos some months back, and recently could not download them after making space on my iPad.

      Actually, Windows 10 is almost the ideal platform for music - except when you are driving. I had an app Hyper (it's no longer in the Windows Store) which I'd use to download YouTube videos. If the volume was low, I'd use FormatFactory to amplify it so that I get what I want. Over the last 2 years, I've collected a whole bunch of videos this after first hearing them o

    • If you don't use Clementine [clementine-player.org] it's your own fault.

    • on your phone, it's no longet iTunes. it's apple Music. So I think you are a bit dated here. Not that I'm a fan of the new interface either. But I don't like to see apple getting beat up over regurgitated issue like lack of a 3 button mouse.

    • So why can't you just use something else to play your music? There are stacks of programs to play various music formats, there's no reason you have to use iTunes.
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @01:25PM (#53634779)

    It boggles my mind why people are more prepared to keep paying for bandwidth and the associated problems such as connection dependencies, interstitial ads and increased battery usage, rather than just using local memory to store music.

    • You've got me. All I know is that on the odd occasion that I buy something off of Google Play (I just bought the new David Bowie EP), it sure the hell doesn't want me to download the MP3s, limiting me to two downloads and harassing me multiple times after the purchase about streaming or downloading to my devices.

      • I'm not the biggest Google Play fan. I started my streaming music adventure with Apple Music, but eventually moved to Spotify.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> it sure the hell doesn't want me to download the MP3s, limiting me to two downloads

        Wow really? you can't even download the entire album you just bought? Fuck that, if I was you I'd have already switched to something that does.

        • You can download the entire album, but only twice. I download immediately after purchase, make copies to multiple places, and so have never tested what happens after the second download.

    • Stream at work, cached for the car ride there... no caps at home.
    • With many streaming music services (not the free versions) you can save the song to the local device, thus not wasting bandwidth on multiple plays of the same song, or being affected by flaky Internet connections. The 10 or so bucks a month also eliminates all the ads.

      • $10/month or you could just buy the song or album....it would be more cost effective.
        • Maybe... work doesn't care if I stream but they wouldn't like me putting all my mp3s on my computer here. And it automatically rotates the cached content around so I'm not listening to the same thing all the time when offline.
          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            Thats kindof insane that they monitor your (free to them) local storage but not your (potentially billable) bandwidth usage.

            >> And it automatically rotates the cached content around so I'm not listening to the same thing all the time when offline.
            Flag as Inappropriate

            Gee if only most media players had something like a random play feature. They could call it shuffle. I'll have to patent that idea. :-)

            • Oh no, it isn't free to them to locally store things. It all gets backed up to the cloud. Mostly, though, they don't want to deal with any copyright nonsense. And sure, there's shuffle, but this way an algorithm finds new things I might like based on what I already like. Discovered lots of new bands that don't get radio airplay.
              • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

                >> Oh no, it isn't free to them to locally store things. It all gets backed up to the cloud.

                What? No it doesn't. I have most of my music library on an SD card on my phone. It doesn't go anywhere.

                >> Mostly, though, they don't want to deal with any copyright nonsense

                What copyright nonsense? You're legally allowed to rip your CDs for personal use. ITs called Fair Use.

                • What copyright nonsense? You're legally allowed to rip your CDs for personal use. ITs called Fair Use.

                  I assume this refers to the copy made inadvertently when the computer is backed up to a corporate backup system.

        • If I only listened to a small number of songs this is true.

          Imagine if one listened to music during the duration of an average work-day: If I desire to listen to music for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and assuming no song repeats:

          Average song length: 3.5 minutes
          Songs played in a 8 hour day: 138

          Costs for purchasing each song:
          Assuming a dollar per song that's 138 dollars a day.
          Assuming an average pf 21 work days per week: $138 * 21 days = $2,898 per month

          Spotify Premium: $9.99 per month.

          Needless to say, the m

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            >> Assuming a dollar per song that's 138 dollars a day.

            First off its not $1 per song if you already own the CDs. Secondly, even if you don't, you only pay that money once.
            With streaming you POSSIBLY pay less if you're just looking at one day, but if you look at streaming music on an ongoing basis, you keep paying.

            • Yes, if you bought the album today, the cost per song would be lower. If you bought only one song, a dollar a song is pretty standard fare.

              If you already bought the album (and are not considering the past expense incurred), yes, much better deal.

              • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

                Call me strange but if I buy something, I like to be the one in control of it. Apart from all the overhead/dependencies of streaming vs storing locally, I also don;t trust the seller to keep making it avaialbe to me for ever.
                Microsoft have already proved my point for me. Twice now, they have shout down entire media stores based on proprietary DRM, making peoples previous purchased music libraires unplayable, with no apologies or refunds.

                • I also don't trust the seller to keep making it available to me for ever.

                  Good point. A subscriber pays a monthly fee, but it is never stated the service *could* up and disappear one day. Its nothing more than renting month to month. The land lord could sell or evict.

                  As long as you don't think you "own" the music, this is OK with me. If Spotify shut up shop, there are alternatives.
                  If all streaming dries up... we probably got bigger problems... Time to break out the LP's!

          • Assuming an average pf 21 work days per week

            I think you need to find a new line of work.

            Despite how ridiculous the radio repeats are, few people want a month of no-repeats. Either way, $2,000 worth of music lasts far more than the 17 years it would take to match that expense through Spotify. I have plenty of music from CDs older than 17 years that I still listen to. Stored properly, you can get 50 years out of it, and a few might be valuable to a future heir.

            A huge number of my CDs were bought used and under the $5 range - they make flawless rips

            • Slight typo there... That should have read "Assuming an average of 21 work days per month" (which is the average). Sorry about that!

              21 working days a week... sounds like Dilbert in Hell.

              Say if you are 18 years old (I am older than that), and do not have a CD library, and wish to continue to add music to your play lists as you discover new artists and songs, the value is much better on the streaming side, if instant access to any song at any time is the desired goal.

              If you are older, have a library of music

        • I consume about 10 hours of music a day (I work in the music space - audio hardware development). To get 300 hours of any music I could ever want (including finding new things or being told about a great song to check out) for $10 a month is a fabulous bargain. Even if I listened to the same 300 hours every month - that would cost around $4500 at typical purchase prices - about 40 years worth of music consumption at $10/month.
      • Shoutcast + streamripper.

        Welcome to early 2000s.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:18PM (#53635265) Homepage

      If you have slightly wider musical tastes and want to listen to music legally, streaming can be a whole lot cheaper than buying hundreds of CD's.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        I actually have very wide musical tastes. Its just that for me at least, very little thats any more than blatantly commercial crap has come out in the last 15 years or so.

    • I don't have enough room on my phone to hold that much music. I could use a cloud alternative, but then that would require me to buy a shit ton of albums, and then clog up harddrive space with ripped CD's.

      Streaming doesn't really use up that much data, so it's really not a problem for me. My biggest issue is ads on YouTube while I'm on mobile. They should switch to some static image or something if you're on mobile.
      • spotify and apple music don't have ads when you pay. and even if i'm wrong, then it's an audio ad that doesn't use a lot of data

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )

        I don't have enough room on my phone to hold that much music. I could use a cloud alternative, but then that would require me to buy a shit ton of albums, and then clog up harddrive space with ripped CD's. Streaming doesn't really use up that much data, so it's really not a problem for me. My biggest issue is ads on YouTube while I'm on mobile. They should switch to some static image or something if you're on mobile.

        If you pay the $10 per month for google play, you get bonus youtube features, including no ads, and plays with screen off (stopping the video stream as far as I can tell)

        To answer the GP's Why question... I have a 64GB phone. It is full with apps, photos and some music. With streaming (google play in my case), I can get any song I want, and even have it recommend new music. I have found several new bands this way.

    • Unlimited bandwidth? I have 1Gbps fiber internet at home, a decent cable connection at work, and unlimited 4G LTE on my cell phone.

      I do play some music from my local network at home, and my phone caches recently played songs, but I don't have to worry about bandwidth.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      It boggles my mind why people are more prepared to keep paying for bandwidth and the associated problems such as connection dependencies, interstitial ads and increased battery usage, rather than just using local memory to store music.

      In my case it's a combination of that local memory being expensive (my phone has non-expandable storage, I have over 70GB of music files on my home file server), and because it's more convenient to stream music than to buy it and copy it to the devices where I want to hear it (home streaming media center, work computer, phone, etc). Even with thousands of songs on my home media center, I still almost always listening to a streaming provider, it's only in rare cases that I have a purchased song of my own tha

    • In a word: laziness
    • It boggles my mind why people are more prepared to keep paying for bandwidth and the associated problems such as connection dependencies, interstitial ads and increased battery usage, rather than just using local memory to store music.

      Because people are lazy and stupid and happy to follow fads.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by deadwill69 ( 1683700 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @03:52PM (#53636041)

      It boggles my mind why people are more prepared to keep paying for bandwidth and the associated problems such as connection dependencies, interstitial ads and increased battery usage, rather than just using local memory to store music.

      I have a few reasons this works for me. After spending almost 20 years building up a digital music library it boils down to time and money.

      Time: My first foray into this was ripping my own CD's and Napster. Napster for the one-of-songs from albums/cassettes/CD's that I lost long ago and felt no strong desire to re-purchase for the one song I liked. CD's were a major pain. I ripped some 1200 of them on 1x to 4x burners. (I still have the manual for the 1x Tascam in the basement. Probably have to old Tascam too) Took a year. Then format's got better. Re-rip at 12x. And again a few years later on many of them at 20x. I managed to amass a collect of over 600,000 mp3, mp4, Wav, and other files. Then I went through and re-imported to get back to higher quality mp3s and get rid of all the separate formats. Keeping it clean, readable, searchable was a part-time job. CDDB didn't exsist and all of this was manually entered. Hell, I'm sure there's a large amount of this data dumped into CDDB after it finally came about.

      Then their is the whole mess of players. When I started there was only WinAmp that could handle more than 8 or 10k songs in a library. Then came iTunes and somewhere around there AOL bought WinAmp. They could handle 100k with ease and was quite a nice interface at the time (I still have an old mac 8600 with iTunes 1.1 on it and it still runs great). As time went on, new players came and went. Export library, import to the next or just start from scratch and wait days for my library to import. No fun going days with out music while your waiting for your library to import. Again. Or computer dies and you start over. iTunes still is the only player that reliably will load my library. (I've done VLC-not very user friendly last I tried, xbox- just sucks, XMBC, etc) All the major and some of the minor just can't handle over 20 or 30 k reliably last I tried and very few had/have the functionality of iTunes. (It's been a few years now since I tried last) So now, I have a computer in my stereo that is dedicated to only music. It runs iTunes, but I now have a wife and kids. This means I don't have the time to devote to maintenance or much else. I could turn the machine on and fire up player of choice that loads 600k songs, but it's just easier to launch Pandora Free (I'll do adds if you don't charge) or youtube and hit a playlist. It takes 3 seconds and I can be ensured a relative easy evening of musical pleasure. Then add on the continuing cost of keeping your collection updated with the latest music you do like. This is an ongoing task that just seems like more work.

      It's like owning a home, at some point you pay someone else to do the things that no longer make financial sense or you don't want to do anymore. I still don't mind yard work, but I'll call a roofer in a second. It's not worth my time to maintain a music library for regular consumption, so I let someone else do it for me. As for mobile, I read books or listen to the radio. I'm quite comfortable with radio hell and it gives me something to bitch about later.

      Will

      Ps. I hate iTunes and have since abandon Macs except for my historical machines that are mostly for sentimental reasons than anything else. Oh nostalgia!

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> It's not worth my time to maintain a music library for regular consumption

        What work is there to maintan a music library? I just copy my music library to my phone's SD card once then I'm done forever.

        • That is true and I once had a player I did that to also. It went in some drawer because I didn't feel like listening to that and didn't feel like putting different music on it. I never put it on my phone, because it's just too much of a battery suck regardless if it's streaming or not. I went back to the radio in the car out of pure laziness. Back to books on the plane for the same reason. Pandora at home because I can just hit "I'm still listening" and go back to where I was. My wife manages the play

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      It boggles my mind why people are more prepared to keep paying for bandwidth and the associated problems such as connection dependencies, interstitial ads and increased battery usage, rather than just using local memory to store music.

      I have 20k+ songs in my personal library, collected according to my interests and tastes since the 1990s. But I still end up getting a better selection/mix when I stream music from Songza. Why? ... I suspect it's because putting together a good music selection really is a skilled career path, but not my career path, so it makes sense to outsource it.

      (This is for home listening on powered devices, so your problems like bandwidth/ads/battery don't apply).

    • I'm surprised that most music isn't just passive stuff you hear on the radio while stuck on the freeway. Sure some people may listen to more music on a personal player, but it's a surprise that most people do this. I suspect most people hear music passively as they walk through shopping malls or stand in elevators.

      However the article talks about music *consumption*, not listening. So maybe this means more people BUY music from streaming services than either itunes or physical media. That's a different t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2017 @01:26PM (#53634803)

    I'm one of the few diehards that likes to listen to FM radio because its simple, couple buttons to press in the car and someone else chooses the music. I'll put up with ads for that.

    Guess I'll have to give in at some point and stream my favorite stations over cellular data/4G LTE with a device that can then get the sound into my car stereo somehow.(my current car has an AUX in 3.5mm jack which is handy, but now everyone is deleting the analogue audio jacks from phones lol) which seems kinda somewhat more complicated!

    What is everyone else doing?

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      I'm one of the few diehards that likes to listen to FM radio because its simple, couple buttons to press in the car and someone else chooses the music. I'll put up with ads for that.

      Doesn't really help too much when, of the 4 rock stations in your major metropolitan city, 2 stations are actually just 1 station broadcasting on 2 sides of the city (and plays mostly popish/folky "alt" rock to boot), 1 mostly plays classic rock, and the 4 was changed over to yet another pop station when we already have 2 (and several times you can now hear the exact same song playing at the same time on all 3 pop stations). There's no variety in FM radio for music any more.

      • That's why the only FM radio station I listen to is NPR. The music's a lot better too (I do like classic rock, but I get tired of listening to the same 20 songs over and over and over and over). The only problem is when they're doing pledge drives. Luckily, I just keep a USB thumb drive plugged in with my music library which I listen to most of the time.

    • the car radio is great for simple eye's free interaction. It's also good for discovering new channels both locally and as you travel. It's a great human interface. Cuing up something on my phone to play it tedious, clumsy and I end up laying the same things too often. Even streaming blows as it's just too complex and too many choices.

      Someone needs to make a radio dial like interface for streamed music. limited selections so it stays not complex but evolves in with new music and also has things like NPR

    • I use TuneInRadio and Pandora in my car. Run in to my car stereo via Aux. input or in one, I can do bluetooth (but don't, Aux is easier).

      I also have a 132 GB iPod with all of my music. In one car, I replaced the stock radio (DIN standard) with a new Kenwood radio that has a USB input for a flash drive. I dump albums I recently purchased on the flash drive and listen to them via the USB port because it's just so easy and I don't have to worry about iPod being put away for potential theft reasons.

  • Stats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @01:34PM (#53634893) Homepage

    Curious to know how they obtain these stats. I personally use a local music library that is played through Foobar2000, so most likely not being tracked at all. And I know I'm not alone in this, either. There are plenty of us NOT using the latest and greatest tracking technologies in our every day lives to do the things we've always been able to do anyways without said tracking technologies, so how do we figure into the stats while simultaneously not being tracked?

    • While I subscribe to Spotify Premium, I did make the time to convert my CD collection to FLAC files to maintain lossless compression. When I prefer to listen to a few favorites on my headphones it's nice to hear the full quality of the song. This also removes any dependence on an Internet connection. No tracking of my music listening there either...

    • They track TV viewing by calling you and going through a questionnaire then they ask if you would keep a log for a month that they will send to you to fill out.

      • They still do that too.

        Mostly they just pay attention to what channel your mandatory cable box is tuned to. Why do you think we don't use QAM?

        • Yes they do, and you don't need to have cable to participate. They called me last year and just out of curiosity I stayed on the line since I don't have cable or satellite. I told them I used streaming services netflix, hulu, etc... they still wanted me to participate.

    • most of the real world uses spotify, apple, google or one of the other music apps out there. then you have the network providers who will sell data about what their networks are used for

  • Maybe it's my work, etc... History but I just can't comprehend the streaming obsession. I'm a sysadmin, and nearly every damned user I have is on Spotify constantly. My wife is on Pandora constantly.

    I have a pile of a couple of hundred CD's I've bought over the years I've turned into Oggs and I have digital albums I've bought online and put on my phone, my desktop at home, my desktop at works and everywhere I want my music.

    My music works when the Internet is out (which is part of the history I spoke of, I

    • Haven't you ever streamed anything on Netflix because it was more convenient than ripping the disc to whatever format the device you're holding can handle? Same deal.
      • Did I mention I rip my movies too? Kodi is awesome, I can play those back on my phone (at home) my PS3, my desktop, the TV it's plugged into.....

        Not exactly the same deal - I do use Netflix (and to a lesser degree Amazon etc...).

        The difference is with Netflix I plop my butt on the couch at home and watch something with a mostly (but my ISP still sucks a little) dependable wired connection to the Netflix servers.

        On the music side of things I'm in the car, at my desk at work, on my bicycle. When I'm using m

        • Those are good points, but if you have a pay sub to a music streaming service you can locally cache, too.
  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @02:03PM (#53635129)

    The Nielsen report says nothing about how people listen to music. The report is about how people directly pay for music (either through streaming subscriptions or more traditional sales) and does not include radio (the audience isn't paying a direct fee for those, after all) or any other form of listening that isn't directly paid for by the listener.

    The only way the headline would ever be valid would be if people purchasing CDs and MP3s listened to them once and then destroyed them, which is almost never going to be the case.

  • I don't stream my music. While maybe in the future that might be okay, with no data caps, everyone having very very fast internet. But when my Internet it down, as it happens, i still have music to listen to.

    My internet goes down, I still have TV shows and movies to watch.

    Plus my music is flac quality.

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