Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt Lead Nielsen Year-End Report

Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt

Sales are down. Streaming is up. Nielsen has released its year-end data for 2017 (Jan. – Nov.), stating music consumption as a whole grew at 12.5 percent. Country music is the third highest radio format (tied with pop).

In her introductory statement, Erin Crawford, SVP Nielsen Entertainment, General Manager Nielsen Music, notes Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” helped drive country music consumption growth for the year while crossing over into the pop charts at Top 10 at Adult Top 40 and No. 11 on Mainstream Top 40.

Notably, Chris Stapleton landed at No. 6 on Billboard‘s all-genre Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Digital Albums and Top 10 Physical Albums. The only other country artist on these charts was Kenny Chesney‘s Live In No Shoes Nation at No. 9 on the latter.

Additionally Crawford noted over-the-air radio remained the top source of new music discovery, while live music saw record attendance and ticket sales.

Total music consumption’s 12.5 percent growth was driven by streaming, led by a 58.7 percent increase in on-demand audio streams compared to 2016. While streaming was up, sales were down. Total album and TEA sales, both digital and physically, saw a drop by 19.2 percent from 2016, while digital track sales were down 23.4 percent compared to the same period.

Vinyl was the only bright spot with sales for 2017, with a 9 percent increase from the prior year to 14.3 million, showing surges in the second and fourth quarters thanks to Record Store Days in April and November. This marks vinyl’s 12th consecutive year of growth, notably with the Beatles at No. 1 and No. 2.

Despite having the most album sales upon its release in 2017, Taylor Swift‘s reputation was behind only Ed Sheeran in Top 5 Genre Artist and Top 5 Albums with 3.4 million and 2.3 million in total consumption, respectively. For Billboard‘s year-end chart, powered by Nielsen, Swift’s reputation landed at No. 1 in Top 10 Albums (sales). Specifically, reputation respectfully landed at No. 3 in total consumption, albeit with the lowest on-demand audio streams (421 million) due to it being immediately withheld from streaming services, for Billboard‘s Top 10 Albums (Album Sales+TEA+On-Demand Audio SEA). As an artist, Swift clocked in at No. 4 in the Top 10 Artists section, measured by total consumption, again with the lowest on-demand audio streams in the category.

Top 5 Genre Artists for country were Stapleton with 1.8 million Album+TEA+On-Demand Audio SEA. Luke Bryan followed with 1.1 million, with Thomas Rhett at 994K, Blake Shelton with 984K and Kenny Chesney with 955K.

Top 5 Albums for country were Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol. 1 and Traveller, at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. Keith Urban‘s Ripcord followed, with Rhett’s Life Changes and Kane Brown‘s self-titled release.

For the Top 5 songs for country, Hunt’s “Body Like a Backroad” took No. 1, followed by Brett Young‘s “In Case You Didn’t Know,” Brown’s (feat. Lauren Alaina) “What Ifs,” Luke Combs‘ “Hurricane” and Urban’s “The Fighter.”

Top 5 Radio Songs saw Hunt again at No. 1, followed by Jon Pardi‘s “Dirt On My Boots,” Combs’ “Hurricane” Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know” and Dylan Scott‘s “My Girl.”

Information courtesy of Nielsen.


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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine,, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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