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Nielsen Music 2018 report: a better year for streaming, women in music & Hip-Hop



Nielsen Music has released its 2018 Year-End Highlights. The survey displays a year of important overall industry growth.

The total audio consumption got up by 23% over 2017, driven by a 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to 2017. Total on-demand streams also set a new high last year with 809.5 bn streams, up by 35% over 2017’s 598 bn

After a relatively quiet 2017 on the charts, female artists have made a massive mark in 2018 thanks to 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 8 weeks in 2017.

In 2018, bilingual hits reached a new threshold with songs like Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin’s “I Like It” topping the Billboard Hot 100 in July (over 873 mn on-demand streams in 2018) including over 531,000 plays at radio. The year following the release of Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito,” Latin Urban and its crossover with English-language pop and hip-hop, has proven it is here to stay. The trend continued with crossover hits like DJ Snake, Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B’s “Taki Taki” (296 mn on-demand streams and 87,000 radio plays) and Bad Bunny & Drake’s “MIA” (234 mn on-demand streams and 93,000 radio plays), each scoring big with mainly Spanish-language singles.

On-demand music streaming volume including videos surpassed 900 bn streams. This marks a 43% increase over the same period last year.

Vinyl sales continue to rise significantly, up 15% over last year. During the 11th annual Record Store Day, vinyl sales once again broke records.

Digital purchasing i.e., song downloads continued to decline sharply. Yet, digital audio consumption digital albums + track equivalent albums + on-demand audio streaming equivalent albums rose by 34%.

Only four songs passed 1 bn streams. These include Drake’s ‘God’s Plan’ and ‘In My Feelings,’ Juice WRLD’s ‘Lucid Dreams (Forget Me),’ and XXXTentacion’s ‘Sad!’.

Drake’s Scorpion was the blockbuster album to beat in 2018, shattering consumption and chart records.  As the year’s most consumed album, Scorpion shattered records during its first week with its songs earning 742.92 mn on-demand audio streams, surpassing record holder Post Malone’s beerbongs & bentleys, which logged 431.3 mn on-demand audio streams for its songs in its first week in May.

The album’s top singles, “God’s Plan” (1.57 bn on-demand streams), “Nice For What” (844 mn on-demand streams) and “In My Feelings” (1.1 bn on-demand streams) spent a combined 29 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing Usher’s 2004 record for most weeks spent at the top in a calendar year.

Social-media phenomenon BTS interpreted their massive online-following to chart success in 2018, with 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.


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Abhishek Singh

Author: Abhishek Singh

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