A new Nielson Music Mid-Year Report for the US and Canada shows streaming adoption driving a robust music industry. The first half of 2019 shattered previous 6 month records with more than 507 billion on-demand combined music and video streams and milestones led by singles and albums from Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Halsey, Khalid, BTS and Bad Bunny. Film, global pop, Latin, video games and mumble rap are all trends to watch.
Box Office Success is Driving Music Sales
To date, this year’s biggest music moments have been aided by exposure in popular films. One of the biggest films was A Star is Born following the 2019 Academy Awards. This year’s Oscars gave a major bump in Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow,” which took home the trophy for Best Original Song and sent the duet to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has reached 684,000 song downloads, 316 million on-demand song streams and one billion audience impressions on the radio to date.
Across the board, the music featured in film and television continued its upward trend from 2018, when soundtracks accounted for two of the year’s top 10 biggest sellers (The Greatest Showman and Black Panther: The Album). Other key music milestones include:
Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, aided by the box office success of its accompanying film, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” The song had a 17% lift in streaming to 47.6 million U.S. streams and a 17% increase in radio audience, with 60.8 million audience impressions the week ending January 10.
Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack sold over 250,000 copies during the first half of 2019 and the film took home Best Motion Picture - Drama at the 2019 Golden Globes and Best Actor at the Academy Awards. Queen is the most consumed Rock artist of the year, the Soundtrack is the best-selling rock title of the period, and the title song has 170,000 song downloads and over 170 million on-demand streams this year. Queen has also sold more albums than any other artist this year, with over 731,000 album sales and has sold the most digital songs with over 1.3 million downloads.
Following the May 31 premiere of Elton John’s biopic, “Rocketman,” his catalog saw an 84% increase in consumption the week ending June 6, including a 138% gain in album sales, a 142% increase in digital song downloads and a 48% increase in audio streams.
Pop Music Continues Global Domination
There are a wide range of Global pop genres that made a big impact in the U.S. such as K-Pop and Latin. K-Pop’s global domination, which reached record peaks in 2018, continued to reach new audiences.
230,000 equivalent album units earned for BTS’ Map of the Soul: Persona, a career-best for the K-Pop group, during the week ending April 12.
BTS and Halsey’s “Boy With Luv” reached 125 million on-demand streams so far this year, including spikes after their performance at the Billboard Music Awards on May 1.
18.6 million first week on-demand streams for BLACKPINK’s “Kill This Love,” which broke the band’s own record for highest-charting single by a K-Pop girl group on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Latin genre saw continued growth in the first half of 2019 with a flurry of pop hits from female artists on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart. This included several crossover singles featuring English-language pop stars.
216 million on-demand streams year-to-date of the Daddy Yankee’s song “Con Calma,” including the bilingual remix featuring Katy Perry.
Over 26 million on-demand streams for Natti Natasha’s “Me Gusta.”
14 million on-demand streams year-to-date for Madonna’s “Medellin” featuring Maluma.
Video Gamers Embrace New Music
Earlier in the year, Marshmello held the first ever in-game concert on the popular live-streamed game Fortnite. The concert led to major gains in the artist’s catalog such as 13,000 units earned of Marshmello: Fortnite Extended Set in its debut week, a 316% sales increase for Marshmello’s album Joytime II and 40 weeks spent at the top of Billboard’s Hot Dance Songs chart with his collaboration with Bastille’s “Happier.”
Record Store Day Continues to Increase Vinyl Sales
Record Store Day, the annual U.S. event to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record stores, scored an all-time high with 827,000 vinyl albums sold during the week ending April 18. The sales were up 12.8% compared to 733,000 vinyl album sales in 2018. In addition, this was the biggest week ever for independent retailers with 633,000 vinyl albums sold at indie stores, a 16% increase from the previous year. Record Store Day continues to fuel the growth of vinyl sales, which year-to-date are up nearly 10% compared to the first six months in 2018. Vinyl LPs now comprise over 23% of all physical album sales, up 18% from the first six months of 2018.
Rest in Peace, Nip - Gone But Never Forgotten
Following the murder of rapper and community activist Nipsey Hussle, we saw a 2,776% spike in the consumption of his catalog on March 31, the day of his death.
66,000 album-equivalent consumption of his 2018’s Victory Lap, his most recent album at the time of his death, which re-entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2.
579,000 viewers for BET’s live telecast of Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service on April 11.
176 million on-demand streams and 755,000 song consumption year-to-date for “Racks in the Middle,” Nipsey Hussle’s most-consumed song of 2019.
Gracenote Finds the DNA of a Musical Hit
Leveraging the Gracenote Music Database, the most comprehensive collection of worldwide music data available today, we found that 2018's most popular music trend continued to gain ground during the first half of the year. Mumble Rap was still the preferred musical style at a high margin over the second favorite, Contemporary Rhythmic Pop, thanks in part to popular songs from Post Malone, Lil Nas X, DaBaby and more. Other leading mood styles this year include Contemporary Pop Power Ballad, Trap, Pop Reggaeton and Urban Contemporary.
Two of this year’s top artists, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish, both have found huge success by bucking the Mumble Rap trend with their own diverse styles of rhythmic and moody pop music. While these leading ladies are both considered Pop, their musical styles are very different featuring a broad range of moods.
Ariana’s “7 Rings," the year's third most consumed song with over 776 million on-demand streams YTD, has a unique musical DNA with its melodic interpolation of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music as well as "Spend It" by 2 Chainz, who appears on the song's official remix. The song is also an outlier in its musical mood and style. Its Intimate mood, punctuated with Neo-Soul stylings, stood out against other trap-informed R&B and hip-hop in the Top 5.
Billie's songs, nine of which are among the 200 most-consumed songs of 2019 YTD, registered the most unique mood and style pivots of any other major pop catalog. Her striking juxtaposition of "Intimate with Attitude" delivery with Dark, Melancholy and sometimes even Grim moods activated an immediate and deep connection with young fans across the country. This contrasted with the mix of the more Sensual, Energetic and Defiant moods otherwise populating the Top 200. Billie’s unique Art Pop style, often incorporating extensive electronic processing, stood out in contrast to the trap, contemporary pop and R&B trap crossover styles otherwise dominating in the Top 200.
To download the full report, visit: https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/