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Drake, Post Malone Rule Nielsen Music Mid-Year Charts; Album Consumption Up 18%

Drake and Post Malone had the highest volume of on-demand streams and Ed Sheeran has the top song in Nielsen Music’s mid-year report for the six-month period ending June 28, 2018, which was released Friday morning.

“The first half of 2018 has shown robust growth for the music industry, building upon the successes of the business in recent years,” said David Bakula, SVP of Industry Insights for Nielsen Music, in a statement. “Fans have never before had access to music on the scale that we see today, and we expect even more gains for the industry in the six months ahead.”

Total album equivalent consumption — which includes physical and digital album sales, song sales and on-demand audio and video song streams — is up 18%, passing 400 billion streams for the first time. On-demand audio streaming volume is up 45%, having already exceeded 268 billion so far in 2018, and on-demand video streaming volume is up 35% year-over-year, according to the report. (The report notes that total album equivalent audio consumption — albums + track equivalent albums (TEA) + on-demand audio streaming equivalent albums (SEA) — is up 13.8% year-to-date over 2017, while total album equivalent consumption — albums + TEA + on-demand audio/video SEA — is up 18.4%.)

Drake and Post Malone had the highest volume of on-demand audio streams in the U.S., with 3.3 billion and 3.1 billion, respectively, but higher album sales put Post Malone on top of all artists in total album equivalent consumption. Drake’s “God’s Plan” is the year’s biggest song thus far, in terms of total song consumption (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio); it has clocked 5.3 million units, including 655 million on-demand audio streams. It is followed by Post Malone’s “Psycho” and BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive.”

Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys” is the leading album in total album equivalent audio consumption this year with total activity of 1.8 million units (albums + TEA + on-demand audio SEA), although that number is likely to be eclipsed by Drake’s “Scorpion,” which broke Malone’s one-day streaming records upon its release last Friday, one day after the Nielsen mid-year mark. It is followed by “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack with 1.6 million units and Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” with 1.1 million units.

Ed Sheeran leads all pop artists at the mid-year mark, as his song “Perfect” is the top pop single for streaming and radio airplay spins; it is also the year’s most-downloaded song, with just over 1 million units. Imagine Dragons held down three of the top five rock songs with “Thunder,” “Believer” and “Whatever it Takes.”

The report noted that three genres in particular have helped drive the year’s gains: Latin (+39% over last year), R&B/Hip-Hop (+26%) and Pop (+19%) all saw increases in total album equivalent consumption.

Latin has grown to 7.7% of total industry volume (albums + TEA + on-demand audio/video SEA), up from 6.5% at the same time last year. R&B/Hip-Hop continues its growth as the industry’s most-consumed genre, with 31.2% of total volume (album + TEA + on-demand audio/video SEA). That genre’s lead over the next-biggest genre, Rock, has increased from 3.8% last year (28.6% vs. 24.8%) to a whopping 8.1% this year (31.2% vs. 23.1%). R&B/Hip-Hop now represents 36.4% of all song streams and 37.5% of all audio song streams this year.

Vinyl sales continue to climb at an impressive clip, up 19.2% year over year. Other album sales formats continue to decline, with CD sales down nearly 20% and sales of digital albums declining by 21.7%. Digital track sales continue to fall faster than all other formats, with sales down 27.4%.

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