When electronic dance music heavyweights like Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, Bassnectar, Afrojack, and dozens of others take the stage this weekend in Las Vegas in front of hundreds of thousands of ravers at the Electric Daisy Carnival, it’ll be the physical manifestation of a music genre that has driven more than 11.2 billion streams since this time last year.
For decades, Nielsen has been the unofficial analyst of the entertainment industry, providing the data that tells us how many people are watching TV shows or listening to different kinds of music. Today, at the EDMbiz conference—an electronic music business event held every year in the days prior to the Electric Daisy Carnival—Nielsen will unveil its second-annual look at the data underlying the genre.
According to Nielsen vice president of branded music Tatiana Simonian, who is presenting "EDM: Just the Facts, Man" at EDMbiz, the total number of electronic dance music tracks streamed in the U.S. over the last year has skyrocketed—up 55%, to 11.2 billion, year-over-year—even as sales have declined.
Nielsen reported that in 2014, fans purchased about 50 million dance and electronic tracks, down about 14% from the 57 million tracks sold in 2013. In 2012, Nielsen said, fans bought 53 million dance and electronic tracks. Sales of electronic and dance music were also down relative to the larger music industry. In 2014, Nielsen said, the genre accounted for 4.6% of all music sales in the U.S. In 2015 so far, that number is down to 4.2%.
So far in 2015, EDM fans in the United States have purchased 2.7 million albums and 24.7 million tracks. While Nielsen doesn't monitor revenue, it suggested albums cost about $10 each, which could mean about $27 million in album sales, while track downloads go for $1, bringing in potentially another $24.7 million. Nielsen also said it uses the industry standard of 1,500 streams for every album purchased, a ratio that works out to about 6 cents earned for every stream. At that rate, EDM artists have brought in $672 million from streams, year-over-year.
Simonian said that American ravers stream far more tracks than in any other country. But she added that consumers in the United Kingdom and Germany purchase more, on a percentage-of-total-sales basis.
"While the U.S. dwarfs [other countries] in consumption," she said, "they are almost at the bottom end of sales of the EDM pipeline, while [Europeans] are buying more than everyone else."
One interesting finding in Simonian’s data is that while females make up 45% of American EDM fans, women DJs get just 6% of the bookings.
Nielsen’s data looked at the economies of music festivals, although Simonian explained that the company didn’t break down those data by genre.
Ultimately, Simonian said, Nielsen’s data demonstrated that music has evolved into "an experienced-based economy."
That means, she said, "your music is in the cloud, you’re traveling to these festivals to be with other fans and experience it one-on-one. It’s not so much about holding the CD in your hand. It’s about experiencing it with 20,000 other fans on the ground, seeing that artist at the same time."