Nielsen Music Canada has released its 2018 Year-End Highlights, reporting on the key industry trends and behaviors that shaped the year in music for the 12 month period beginning Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 3, 2019. The highlights reflect consumer engagement across the music industry’s most popular platforms, including streaming, social media, radio, live events, film, and more. The numbers show that album-equivalent audio consumption in Canada is up 21%, while Canadian artists continue score big at home and abroad.
New to this year’s insights is the integration of Gracenote’s Sonic Style music descriptor system that leverages audio analysis and machine learning technology to classify the “style” of songs at the recording level, helping to better categorize and curate an artist’s entire catalog, beyond traditional artist genres. For instance, while "Urban Crossover: Rap" and "Alternative R&B" are the “Genres of the Year” in the U.S. market based on traditional artist-level genres, Gracenote further analyzed individual recordings to show that more than 20% of the songs on the U.S. year-end Billboard 2018 Hot 100 have elements of “Mumble Rap” from the likes of Post Malone, Juice WRLD, Lil Baby, Migos, Rich the Kid, among others. This level of detail uncovers the upswing of “Mumble Rap” as it has more than doubled since 2016, when it only made up approximately 10% of the U.S. year-end Billboard Hot 100.
According to Nielsen, the music industry experienced significant overall growth in 2018, with total album equivalent audio consumption up 21% over 2017, driven by a 47% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year. Unsurprsingly, the album with the highest total consumption is Drake’s Scorpion, with 424,000 on-demand audio consumption units, including over 481 million audio on-demand streams. The Canadian superstar also has the No. 1 most-consumed song (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio) with “God’s Plan.” The single is the top streamed song of 2018 with over 138 million audio and video combined streams. Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” was the leader in song sales, with just over 207,000 in digital downloads. The biggest selling album of the year is the A Star Is Born soundtrack with album sales of over 92,000 units.
Key Year-End Insights (through week-ending 1/3/19):
- Streaming volume continued to rise with the total number of on-demand audio song streams surpassing 59 billion in 2018, a sizable 47% increase over the same time period in 2017.
- Overall on-demand music streaming volume, including video, has increased 45% since the same period last year.
- Total album equivalent audio consumption (Albums + Track Equivalent Albums (TEA) + On-Demand Audio Streaming Equivalent Albums (SEA)) is up 21% over last year.
- Despite sharp declines in digital purchasing, digital consumption (Digital Albums + Track Equivalent Albums + total Streaming Equivalent Albums) is up a healthy 22% over last year.
- Vinyl continued to soar, up 25% over the same period last year, surpassing one million units.
“The music industry in Canada is thriving following yet another year of tremendous growth and engagement,” says Paul Shaver, VP of Nielsen Entertainment Canada. “Canadians are listening and engaging with more music than ever before and we’re seeing an increased diversity of taste among listeners. Nielsen Music Canada is excited to continue providing the key insights that help move the industry forward.”
TOP FIVE NIELSEN MUSIC 2018 YEAR-END TRENDS:
1. Canadian Artists Find Success — Home and Abroad: Drake, Shawn Mendes, Loud Luxury lead year of home-bred hits
In addition to Drake, a number of Canadian artists had a strong 2018, both at home and abroad. Shawn Mendes, who just received two big Grammy nominations, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart and the Billboard 200 in the U.S., and Top 5 in a number of countries across Europe, with his self-titled album, while the single “In My Blood” topped Billboard’s U.S. Adult Top 40 airplay chart. London, ON duo Loud Luxury scored a breakout hit at home with “Body,” which topped the Billboard Canadian CHR and AC airplay charts for multiple weeks and has compiled nearly 77 million streams in Canada this year.
The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy EP topped the Billboard album charts in both the U.S. and Canada, while fellow R&B act Tory Lanez scored two Top 5 albums in 2018 in both countries, including his first chart-topper in Canada. Two albums from Michael Buble reached No. 1 late in the year on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. On the singles front, Daniel Caesar scored two Billboard No. 1 songs on the U.S. Adult R&B airplay chart. At Country, High Valley picked up their first Top 10 airplay hit in the U.S. on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Lindsay Ell also landed her first Canadian airplay No. 1 and Top 20 U.S. Country Airplay single, while Dallas Smith, Dean Brody, Tebey, Gord Bamford, and Meghan Patrick also picked up Billboard Canadian Country airplay No. 1 songs.
Canadians received a total of 26 Grammy nominations for the award show scheduled for February 10, 2019.
2. The Year of Drake: Scorpion stings chart, consumption records with multiple No. 1 hits
Drake’s Scorpion was the blockbuster album to beat in 2018, shattering consumption records. As the year’s most consumed album, Scorpion crushed the one-week streaming record during its first week of release, with 70 million on-demand audio streams for its songs, surpassing the previous record holder, Post Malone’s beerbongs & bentleys, which logged 43 million on-demand audio streams for its songs in its first week in May.
The album’s lead singles, "God's Plan" (138 million on-demand streams), "Nice For What" (85 million on-demand streams), "In My Feelings” (99 million on-demand streams), and “Nonstop” (48 million on-demand streams) spent a combined 22 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.
3. The Strength Of Women: Canadian Female emerging artists highlight 2018 successes
Female artists continued to make a big splash in 2018 thanks to No. 1 hits and popular singles/albums from Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Ariana Grande, and a growing group of emerging Canadian female artists at radio. In 2018, 14 songs from female artists, either lead or featured, peaked in the Top 5 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Airplay chart in 2018, continuing the breakthroughs reached the previous year.
Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion Of Privacy, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, spending two weeks at the top. She was either the lead or featured artist on 23 songs that reached the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, including her collaboration with Maroon 5 on “Girls Like You,” which spent ten weeks at No. 1.
Ariana Grande’s Sweetener scored the largest streaming week for a pop album by a female artist upon its August release with 13 million on-demand audio streams. Three months later, her standalone single “thank u, next” became her first-ever Billboard Canadian Hot 100 No. 1 single, picking up over 47 million streams since its release.
In addition to Cardi B and Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Camila Cabello, and Carrie Underwood all scored chart-topping albums in 2018.
At radio, female lead and featured artists had 14 Top 5 songs on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Airplay chart, compared with nine in 2017, including chart-topping songs from Cardi B (featured on Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” and via a collaboration with Bruno Mars on “Finesse”), Camila Cabello (“Havana”), and Maren Morris (alongside Zedd and Grey on “The Middle”).
Canadian female artists also had a strong 2018, including breakout hits from Bulow, Delaney Jane, Ria Mae, The Beaches and Tenille Townes. Lindsay Ell and Meghan Patrick scored #1 songs at country radio this year, the first time since 1999 that two Canadian female country artists picked up chart-topping songs in the same year. Ginette Reno’s A Jamais album is the fourth highest selling album of the year and Marie-Mai scored a chart-topping song on the Francophone airplay chart this year.
4. Soundtracks Score Big: Blockbuster movies post gangbuster music sales
Three soundtracks from blockbuster movies place inside the Top 20 on the Billboard Canadian Album 2018 year-end chart.
Black Panther: The Album, curated by Kendrick Lamar, became the first soundtrack in 12 months to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, eventually spending three weeks at the top. The set, which features hits from The Weeknd and SZA, was No. 9 on the year-end Billboard Canadian Album chart.
Starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, the longest running chart-topping soundtrack since Frozen spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 2014, A Star Is Born was the top selling album in Canada in 2018 with 92,000 units while the lead single, “Shallow,” spent 13 weeks at the top of the Billboard Digital Songs chart.
The Greatest Showman soundtrack, which came out late in 2017, landed at No. 15 on the Billboard Canadian Album year-end chart and also spawned an all-star covers album.
In addition, Queen scored their first Top 5 album in the Nielsen SoundScan era with the soundtrack to the hit biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. And the soundtrack for the hit sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again topped the best-selling album chart for two straight weeks.
5. K-Pop Boom Reaches New Heights: BTS leads record chart representation, consumption, social activity for Korean acts
Social media phenomenon BTS translated their massive online following to continued chart success in 2018, with September’s Love Yourself becoming the band’s first album, and the first K-Pop album, to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. But for the first time ever, songs by multiple K-Pop acts achieved success on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 and other charts, suggesting the K-Pop revolution may have only just begun.
BTS captured the three most-talked-about moments on Twitter during May’s Billboard Music Awards. The band’s arrival on the red carpet prompted 208,245 interactions on Twitter, followed by the members’ meeting with Tyra Banks (135,029) and the band’s win for Top Social Artist (128,479).
Korean girl group BLACKPINK scored their two highest Billboard Canadian Hot 100 entries with June’s “Ddu-Du-Ddu-Du” and November’s Dua Lipa collaboration “Kiss And Make Up.” The group’s catalogue has picked up 54 million on-demand streams in 2018.
In March, South Korean rapper J-Hope reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart with the EP Hope World, and in November, all-male K-Pop outfit EXO scored their second top 100 album with Don’t Mess Up My Tempo.