Home » Feature » Female artists, soundtracks & K-Pop – Highlights of the Music Industry in 2018

Female artists, soundtracks & K-Pop – Highlights of the Music Industry in 2018



According to Nielsen, the music industry experienced significant overall growth in 2018, with total album equivalent audio consumption up 23% over 2017, driven by a 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year.

The top-streamed on-demand song (audio and video combined) is Drake’s “God’s Plan” with over 1.5 billion total streams, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks. “God’s Plan” also led total song consumption (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio) with 7.4 million units, including over 918 million on-demand audio streams. Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” was the leader in song sales with 1.3 million in permanent downloads so far this year.

The Nielsen Music 2018 report listed year-end trends which were observed in the music industry. Apart from the Latin music and Drake topping the charts, 2018 witnessed a surge in female artists making it big on the charts, soundtracks getting the limelight that they deserve and K-Pop rising to be one of the most popular genres of music.

Women made a comeback in 2018

Female artists made a big splash in 2018 owing to the No. 1 hits and wildly popular singles/albums from Cardi B, Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande. Women have ruled the Billboard Hot 100 as lead or featured artists for 18 weeks in 2018, up from eight weeks in 2017.

camila cabello(Pic: Cardi B)


Cardi B became the first female rapper to score two solo No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 with “I Like It,” which was quickly followed by a third No. 1 from her collaboration with Maroon 5 for “Girls Like You” (731 million on-demand streams). While on the other hand, Ariana Grande’s Sweetener scored the largest single-week streams for a pop album by a woman upon its August release with 126.7 million on-demand audio streams for the week ending Aug. 23.

Soundtracks scored big

As box office receipts tallied record numbers in 2018, hit movies’ accompanying soundtracks posted some of the biggest showings for the format in recent years. Even Queen saw a halo effect from the success of its Golden Globe-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which earned the band a historic return to both the Billboard 200 and Billboard Hot 100. Not only did the soundtrack become the band’s first Top 10 album in 39 years, its namesake single, Bohemian Rhapsody, became one of two songs ever to re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 for a third time in three different decades, at No. 33, with sales of 24,000 downloads and 13.3 million U.S. streams.

Bohemian Rhapsody(Pic: Bohemian Rhapsody)


The 2017 late release, The Greatest Showman, became the first album to sell 1 million copies in 2018, surpassing that milestone week ending June 7. Also, Black Panther: The Album, curated by Kendrick Lamar, scored the most streams ever in a single week for a soundtrack (for the week ending Feb. 15), with 138.9 million on-demand audio streams for its songs. Another movie that garnered the limelight for its soundtrack was A Start is Born starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, which posted the biggest week for a soundtrack in three and a half years, with a debut of 231,000 equivalent album units earned. The set is the second best-selling album of 2018.

K-Pop soars to newer heights

K-Pop band BTS experienced their massive online-following with a chart success in 2018. September’s Love Yourself becoming the band’s second album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with 185,000 equivalent album units. But for the first time ever, songs by multiple K-Pop acts achieved success on the Billboard Hot 100 and other charts, suggesting the K-Pop revolution may have only just begun.



Korean girl group BLACKPINK scored their first two Billboard Hot 100 entries with June’s “Ddu-Du-Ddu-Du” (113 million on-demand streams for the year) and November’s Dua Lipa collaboration “Kiss and Make Up” (41 million on-demand streams in 2018). “Ddu-Du-Ddu-Du” also became the highest-charting single (No. 55) by an all-female K-pop group ever on the Billboard Hot 100.

In conclusion

“With continued momentum, 2018 has shown no evidence of slowing music consumption with a hearty 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year. We can attribute that to increased access to music with new smart speakers and connected devices that have helped catapult engagement and consumption to record highs. With the anticipation of 5G, we expect that new connected hardware and faster ‘always on’ connections will continue to drive consumption across all platforms and channels to keep music at the forefront of entertainment in 2019 and beyond,” said David Bakula, SVP Industry Insights at Nielsen Music.


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