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Streaming Soars, Kendrick Lamar Has 2017’s Top Album (So Far) in Nielsen Music’s Mid-Year Report

Variety logo Variety 7/5/2017 Jem Aswad
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In the first half of 2017, streaming continued its rise to dominance, Kendrick Lamar has the top album and Ed Sheeran the top streaming on-demand song, according to Nielsen Music’s mid-year report http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2017/us-music-mid-year-report-2017.html released Wednesday (July 5). The results were similar, with some key differences, from the BuzzAngle mid-year figures, released a few days ago.

On-demand audio streams have reached over 184 billion streams so far in 2017, a 62.4% increase over the same time period in 2016, while overall on-demand streams (including video) have surpassed 284 billion streams this year, an increase of 36.4% over the same period in 2016. Weekly on-demand audio streams surpassed 7 billion for the first time ever, during the week ending March 9.

As streaming rises physical continues to fall, as album sales dropped more than 18% (that’s downloads and physical combined), although total audio consumption (albums + track-equivalent album units + Audio on-demand streaming-equivalent album units) is up 8.9% over last year.

The top streaming on-demand song (audio and video combined) is Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” followed by Migos’ (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) “Bad and Boujee” and Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s (feat. Justin Bieber) “Despacito.”

“The first half of 2017 has seen some incredible new benchmarks for the music industry,” said David Bakula, Nielsen’s SVP of Music Industry Insights. “The rapid adoption of streaming platforms by consumers has generated engagement with music on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”

Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” is the leading album in total volume this year with total activity of more than 1.77 million units (albums, track equivalent albums and audio on-demand streaming equivalent albums combined) and held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks. “DAMN.” is followed by Ed Sheeran’s “Divide” with 1.74 million units and Drake’s “More Life” with 1.69 million units. The latter album’s release on March 18 set a record for audio on-demand streams in one week, with its tracks earning a combined 385 million streams, beating the record held by his previous album, “Views,” which logged 245 million streams in its first week for its songs.

The biggest song at the mid-year point, in terms of total song consumption (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio) is “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran with 4.53 million units. The track also tops the Digital Song Sale charts with over 2 million downloads sold so far this year.

In terms of genre, R&B/hip-hop had the largest share of overall volume for the first time (meaning physical sales, downloads and streaming combined), with 25.1% of the total volume. Rock, which had previously been the largest genre, slipped to No. 2 on 23%. Streaming drove R&B/hip-hop to the top, with over 30% of audio on-demand streaming coming from the genre, nearly as much as the next two genres combined (18% for rock and 13% for pop). The genres, ranked by overall volume, were:

R&B/HipHop: 25.1%

Rock: 23%

Pop: 13.4%

Country: 8%

Latin: 5.7%

Electronic/dance: 4%

Christian/gospel: 2.5%

Children’s: 1.4%

Jazz: 1%

Classical: 1%

Also in the report were bumps aided by the Super Bowl — which found halftime performer Lady Gaga getting a formidable 1,580% bymp in digital track sales over the previous week, as well as increases of 844% in albums with TEA and SEA and 210% for overall on-demand audio streams — and the Grammy Awards, where songs performed during the show added 319,000 song sales and nearly 21 million on-demand streams. Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” led all album on-demand streams with a unit increase of over 15 million; Adele’s “25” was a distant second with a unit increase of over 5 million on-demand streams. Prince was the single-most streamed artist, with an increase of over 16 million on-demand streams (5,500% increase). Chance the Rapper followed close behind, with an increase of just under 16 million on-demand streams (an 84% increase).

Related Video: The Best Albums of 2017 So Far (Via Rolling Stone)

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