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Nielsen Music Tallies Up 2017 Sales

By Steve Harvey. Nielsen Music has released its sales reports for 2017, revealing R&B/Hip-Hop has taken over the music world. Meanwhile, streaming and vinyl continue to surge.

New York, NY (January 4, 2018)—Vinyl album sales were up for the twelfth consecutive year, music streaming continued to grow and, for the first time ever, R&B/hip-hop was the dominant genre, according to Nielsen Music’s 2017 end-of-year report.

The surge in music streaming continued throughout 2017, overall consumption of albums, songs and audio on-demand streaming grew 12.5 percent year over year, and a 59 percent increase in on-demand audio streams offset track and album sales declines, the report states.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) conquered all in total volume (albums + track equivalent albums + on-demand audio streaming equivalent albums), followed by Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and Taylor Swift’s Reputation. The biggest song of the year was “Despacito” in terms of total activity (sales + on-demand audio streaming equivalents), followed by Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and “Humble.” by Kendrick Lamar.

Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s Spanish-language “Despacito” and its crossover remix featuring Justin Bieber also made Latin music history by topping the Hot 100 chart in 2017. It topped the Digital Song Sales chart, followed by Sheeran’s “Shape of You” with Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” in third place.

Seven of the top 10 most-consumed albums in 2017 were R&B/hip-hop. The dominance of the genre was driven by a 72 percent increase in on-demand audio streaming.

Yet rock music still drives the vinyl format, which accounted for 14 percent of all physical album sales in 2017. Vinyl album sales hit a new Nielsen high in 2017 with 14.32 million units sold, up 9 percent over 2016’s 13.1 million total.

Top of the heap was the reissue of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with some 72,000 copies sold (figures are rounded). In second spot? The Beatles’ Abbey Road, with 66,000 sold.

But vinyl sales comprised more than just the Beatles’ catalog. The soundtrack from Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, rounded out the top three with sales of 62,000. In total, according to Nielsen, 77 separate titles sold more than 20,000 copies each on vinyl in 2017. That figure, too, is up over 2016, when 58 titles reached that sales benchmark.

For comparison, in 2016, the vinyl album top three included Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface, with 68,000 sold, David Bowie’s Blackstar (66,000) and Adele’s 25 (58,000).

The 2017 top-selling vinyl albums also included Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide) (62,000 copies), Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (58,000), Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (Soundtrack) (58,000), Bob Marley and The Wailers, Legend: The Best Of… (49,000), Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (54,000), Soundtrack, La La Land (49,000) and, at number 10, Michael Jackson, Thriller (49,000).

Nielsen •