Remember when you had to buy and download music? According to Nielsen Soundscan, a music sales measurement tool, paid music downloads are suspected to die off by 2021.


Last year, paid song downloads dropped 12.5 percent. Across the last two years combined, downloads dropped 23.4 percent. With paid music downloads via iTunes and Amazon falling below the one-billion mark for the first time since 2007, it’s hard to deny the era of paid downloads is coming to an end.

The growth and rise in popularity of music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music within the past years has greatly accelerated the plunge of paid music downloads. In 2015, total music streams soared from the previous year’s 164.5 million to 317.2 million.


The future of music consumption is changing. Looking at the whole picture, a paid download accounts for at least 140 times the revenue of an equivalent stream. With better connections and accessibility to music, music fans will receive the largest benefit with music streaming platforms. On the other hand, artists and label companies get the short end of the stick as they struggle with royalty estimates.