Streaming Drives Another Year of Music Consumption Growth in Canada: Nielsen 2019 Year-End Music Report

Nielsen Music Canada has released its 2019 Year-End Report, which provides a detailed breakdown Canadians’ music consumption trends from last year. As well, because it also marked the end of a decade, the new report also reveals the decade’s top songs, artists, and albums in Canada.

“A milestone year for streaming, 2019 saw another record year for on-demand streams during a 12-month period in Canada. The year ended with 98 billion on-demand streams, fueled by a big year for hitmakers Post Malone, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, as well as Canadian acts like Shawn Mendes, Celine Dion and Drake. Tech trends like TikTok helped usher in a new wave of viral hits, while K-Pop and Latin acts continued the globalization of music reaching Canadian fans,” the report’s authors state in the introduction.


  • Total album equivalent consumption was up 18.1% with a total of 75.4 million units in 2019. This metric combines physical and digital albums sales, track-equivalent albums (TEA), and on-demand video and audio streaming-equivalent albums (SEA).
  • Without music on video platforms like YouTube incorporated, total album consumption rose 15.4% in 2019
  • Not surprisingly, the growth in music consumption was again driven by on-demand streaming. The combined on-demand audio and video streaming growth in 2019 was 36.8%. For on-demand audio streaming alone, the year-over-year growth was 31.2%
  • It was another bad year, however, for digital and physical music sales. Total album sales were down -23.3%, with a drop from 13.5 million in 2018 to 10.4 million in 2019.
  • CD sales were down another -26% in 2019, with a drop from 7.4 million sold in 2018 to 5.5 million sold in 2019.
  • Digital downloads aren’t doing any better than CDs, with digital album sales dropping -24.5% from 5.1 million in 2018 to 3.8 million in 2019.
  • Vinyl LPs, though, continues their consistent climb, with sales up another 2.2% in 2019 with about 1 million units sold.

Podcasts now have a broad reach, with 37% of general population expressing an interest," the report adds, noting that interest is even higher among teens (52%) and Millennials (53%). Music is the most listened to podcast genre among those interested in podcasts and is even more popular among teens (43%).

Among the year’s top artists, Pickering, ON’s Shawn Mendes continued his assault on the pop charts. His song "Señorita," a duet with girlfriend Camila Cabello, racked up 114 million on-demand streams in Canada last year, while his other hit single, “If I Can’t Have You,” earned 49 million on-demand streams.

Celine Dion also had a massive comeback in 2019 with the release of Courage, her first English-language album in six years. The album earned 55,000 first-week consumption units, making it the best Canadian consumption week since Drake’s Scorpion in July 2018.

Lil Nas X’s breakout hit, “Old Town Road,” was the 2019’s most popular song in Canada with 244 on-demand streams.

Elsewhere in the report, it says that “Radio continues to be the top source of music discovery, with 65% of Canadian music listeners discovering music through at least one type of radio (radio discovery includes “over the air,” satellite and/or streaming radio).

Among teens, streaming accounts for 44% of their weekly music listening time, compared to 33% for the average music listener.

“Among Teen Music Listeners,” the report says, “24% turn to social media for music discovery, while 52% report that ‘new technologies (e.g., voice assistants, smart TV, specialized headphones, etc.) have made it easier for me to discover new musicians/songs that I like.’”

The report’s is compiled by Nielsen Music/MRC Data Canada and covers the 12-month period from Jan 4, 2019, through Jan 2, 2020.

To read the full report, go HERE.

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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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