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People Are Streaming Music on Audio Platforms More Than Video Platforms for the First Time

In the first half of 2016, on-demand music streams on audio music platforms like Spotify far exceeded those on digital video platforms like YouTube for the first time in history, according to a new mid-year report from analytics company Buzzangle. Yup, you read that correctly: music streaming platforms were abnormally, historically popular when it came to streaming music, however counterintuitive that may be. Of the 209.4 billion total music streams in the US market during the period, audio platforms made up 55% (or 114.23 billion streams), while video platforms comprised just 45% (95.17 billion).

These numbers mark a significant turnaround from a year ago, when video platforms enjoyed 58% of the market, compared to audio streaming's 42%.

Another, perhaps less surprising, revelation of the report was that streaming itself—no matter that platform—is more popular than ever: the total number of streams in the first quarter of 2016 was up 58.3% from a year ago, whereas the first quarter of 2015 brought in only 132.3 billion. Indeed, it should surprise no one that streaming is the industry's fastest-growing source of revenue.

The news that audio music platforms are on the rise will most likely be welcomed by critics of YouTube, who have argued that the site takes advantage of DMCA safe harbor rules to keep artists and record labels from getting the renumeration they deserve. These rules limit the liability of user upload sites like YouTube for the illegal actions of their users, which means they can get ad revenue for posting copyrighted content content without having to bear responsibility for it. Frances Moore, CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), argued in the organization's 2016 Global Music Report that the industry's capacity for growth is held back by the circumstances.