Nielsen Canada Year-End Report: Music Consumption Up 13.6% in 2017 Thanks to On-Demand Streaming

Nielsen 2017 reportNielsen Music has released its 2017 Canada Year-End Report for the 12-month period ending Dec. 28, 2017. The report offers in-depth analysis of the consumer trends and behaviors that shaped the year in Canadian music, with forward-looking insights into the year ahead. The report contains the Nielsen Music Year-End charts, presented by Billboard, and covers a wide range of essential industry verticals, from streaming to social media, live music and events, brand activations, artist and genre insights, television and film, format trends and much more.

Listen to Nielsen Music Canada VP Paul Shaver dig into these numbers and more on the latest episode of the CM Radio podcast at

The Nielsen Music Canada Year-End Report confirms that the music industry experienced steady and consistent growth in 2017 with total audio consumption (Albums + Track Equivalent Albums + On- Demand Audio Streaming Equivalent Albums) up 13.6% over 2016, powered by a 70.9% increase in on-demand audio streams compared to last year. Total audio streams topped 39 billion in 2017. The industry did experience decreases in both digital album and digital track sales, but the growth in streaming led to a 24.6% overall increase in digital music consumption. In 2017, catalogue album sales represented 53% of total album sales, the highest percentage to date in the Nielsen Music era. Canada saw its highest vinyl LP sales total to date with a 21.8% increase over 2016, the seventh straight year of growth for the vinyl LP format.

This year’s report shows that three of the top ten best-selling albums for 2017 belong to Canadian artists, with Shania Twain at No. 5, Arcade Fire at No. 6 and Mario Pelchat at No. 7. Three of the top ten airplay songs also belong to Canadian artists, including The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming,” which landed at No. 2.

Six different Canadian artists had No. 1 albums on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart in 2017, including Gord Downie’s posthumous release, Introduce Yerself, which debuted atop the charts. Other Canadian chart-toppers included The Weeknd, Drake, Arcade Fire, Shania Twain, and Pierre Lapointe.

Nielsen statsEd Sheeran’s *Divide *was the most-consumed album in Canada in 2017, with 501,000 total consumption units. *Divide *spent five weeks at number one, the most of any album this year. His single “Shape Of You” was the most-consumed song of the year, with the highest streaming total and the second-highest song downloads, behind Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.” “Shape Of You” was also the most-played song on Canadian radio in 2017.

“The past year demonstrated that it’s an exciting time for the music industry in Canada,” says Paul Shaver, VP/Head of Nielsen Music Canada. “Streaming continues to evolve and mature in the market, becoming a key source of music discovery for consumers.  Streaming, physical sales, downloads, airplay and live attendance are all driving music consumption to new heights. The music landscape is evolving at a rapid pace and we look forward to tracking and identifying industry opportunities for the year ahead.”

Other notable insights and trends from the 2017 Nielsen Music Canada Year-End Report, include:

– Total Audio Consumption (Albums + Track Equivalent Albums + On-Demand Audio Streaming Equivalent Albums) in 2017 was up 13.6% over 2016, fueled by a 70.9% increase in On-Demand Audio streams, making up for a 17.4% decrease in album sales and an 18.8% decrease in digital  song download sales.

– The R&B/Hip-Hop genre had a big year, aided by its popularity among consumers on streaming platforms. It was the fastest growing of the major genres with an 86.2% Audio streaming increase. Three of the top five most-consumed albums of the year came from the genre, including releases from Canadian superstars, Drake and The Weeknd.

– “Despacito” became the first Latin single to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 and ended the year as the second most-streamed song and the most downloaded song.

– Justin Bieber collaborated on four top five charted songs in 2017, despite not releasing his own album.

– Taylor Swift’s *Reputation *sold 80,000 copies in its first week – the highest one week album sales total in Canada in 2017.

– Five albums sold more than 100,000 copies in 2017, compared to six in 2016. Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Metallica, P!nk and Shania Twain all reached the mark.

– Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” spent 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart and remained in the top 20 for 50 weeks.

– Digital Song sales continued to post year-over-year declines, with only two songs, “Despacito” and “Shape Of You,” picking up over 300,000 downloads in 2017, compared to four songs reaching that same mark in 2016. The two songs also became the first to total over 100 million streams in a calendar year in Canada, as streaming consumption continues to rise, with 20 songs picking up over 50M streams in 2017, compared to 14 songs in 2016.

– The passing of Gord Downie this past October propelled fans of The Tragically Hip and his solo work to purchase and stream their catalogue, as the band’s 2005 best of release, *Yer Favourites, *reached No. 2 on the Billboard Canadian Album chart and Downie’s posthumous release, *Introduce Yerself,  *debuted at number one. The deaths of Tom Petty and Chris Cornell also led to large increases in their catalogues.

– Canadian R&B/Hip-Hop artists Nav and Daniel Caesar scored breakout successes on both sides of the border.

– K-Pop stars, BTS, crossed over in 2017, scoring a top three album with *Love Yourself *and their first charted song on radio with “Mic Drop.”

– 2017 marked the highest yearly vinyl sales to date, up 21.8% over last year. Ed Sheeran’s *Divide *was the top-selling title of the year, with classic rock titles from Pink Floyd and The Beatles also placing in the top five.

**For the full Nielsen Music Canada year-end report and charts, go to: **

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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