Music Updates

Audio Streams Up 15%, Vinyl Sales Double in First Half of 2021

The only serious loss was in digital sales: Album downloads fell 26.8%, to 12.92 million, while track sales dropped 20.3%, to 101.8 million. But physical sales rose so much that, for the first time in years, total album sales rose, by 12.6% to 51.26 million.

The top song of the year so far is Olivio Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” with 582.8 million streams, followed by Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” featuring Dababy, with 438 million streams. (By comparison, Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” had been streamed 1.07 billion times during the first half of last year.)

The top album is Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album, with 2.1 million album consumption units, outpacing the No. 2 title, Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR, at 1.37 million units. Wallen’s album is also outperforming last year’s mid-year No. 1, Lil Baby’s My Turn, which had nearly 1.5 million album consumption units by this time.

Taylor Swift’s evermore leads vinyl sales over the period, with 143,000 units sold, followed by Harry Style’s Fine Line, with 125,000 units sold.

Overall, U.S. album audio consumption units are up 14.4% to 413.3 million, while overall consumption units (including video streams) are up 13.5% to 434.65 million.

Universal Music Group improved upon its industry-leading market share, as measured by distribution ownership, to 38.55% from 38.16% in the same period of 2020. The total market share of independent distributors, as measured by label ownership, also rose, to 36.46% from 35.85%, according to Billboard estimates.

R&B/hip-hop remained the top genre, with a 28.25% market share, down slightly from 28.44% in the first half of 2020, while rock rose by 1.1 percentage points to a 20.36% market share. Latin also grew, to a 5.28% market share, from 4.36% last year; and country and dance each rose slightly — the former to 8.21% from 8.02%, the latter to 3.39% from 3.18%. The only major genre that dropped was pop, which declined slightly to 12.89% from 13.28%.

Looking at those genres another way, Latin had the largest percentage gain growing 37.6% to nearly 23 million album consumption units from 16.7 million units in the first half of 2020, while dance music increased 21% to 14.7 million units from 12.2 million units in the first half of 2020. Close behind in percentage gains, rock was up 20% to 88.5 million album consumption units from 73.8 million units in the corresponding year earlier period; and country increased 16.3% to 35.7 million units versus 30.7 million units.

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