Figures from Nielsen Soundscan reveal sales of digital albums and songs plummeted in the US in 2014 by 9 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Last year Americans bought 257 million albums, 106.5 million of them downloads.
While digital song sales fell from 1.26 billion to 1.1 billion year-over-year, the use of streaming spiked to 164 billion songs, up 54 percent from 2013's 106 billion streamed songs. Surprisingly, sales of vinyl records continue to boom and hit 9.2 million pieces in 2014, the highest number since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. More and more music lovers want to get back to the pure sounds of old-fashioned records, resulting in a 52 percent more sales than in 2013.
Streaming services, on the other hand, vaulted with 164 billion songs streamed last year, a 54 percent increase over 2013. As WSJ notes, though, the music industry will likely need to see even bigger gains if it continues to lean on streaming to make up for lost album sales -- especially considering Pharell's measly payout for one of 2014's biggest songs. That, or more artists could follow Taylor Swift's lead and pull their music from streaming services entirely: 1989 topped the charts with 3.66 million copies sold.