US market figures from Nielsen have revealed that total album equivalent audio consumption was up 23% year-on-year to 618 million units in 2018.
The growth was driven by a 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams, which hit 611 billion. When video is included, on-demand streaming passed 900 billion streams, up 43% year-on-year.
The US market performance bested the UK, where total album consumption was up 5.7% and audio streams increased by 33.5%.
Drake was the top performer in the US with the most streamed song (audio and video) – God’s Plan racked up more than 1.5 billion total streams. It was No.2 in the UK behind Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa.
God’s Plan also came out on top for total song consumption with 7.4m units, including more than 918m on-demand audio streams. Based on song sales, though, Ed Sheeran triumphed with Perfect (1.3m downloads).
Vinyl sales were up 15%, following a successful edition of Record Store Day, though overall physical album sales slumped by 15.8% to 88 million. CD sales were down 20.9%
Four tracks surpassed 1bn on-demand streams – God’s Plan, Juice Wrld’s Lucid Dreams (Forget Me), Drake’s In My Feelings and Xxxtentacion’s Sad.
"With continued momentum, 2018 has shown no evidence of slowing music consumption with a hearty 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year," said David Bakula, SVP industry insights at Nielsen Music. "We can attribute that to increased access to music with new smart speakers and connected devices that have helped catapult engagement and consumption to record highs. With the anticipation of 5G, we expect that new connected hardware and faster 'always on' connections will continue to drive consumption across all platforms and channels to keep music at the forefront of entertainment in 2019 and beyond."