In 2018, Apple Music saw its country music streaming numbers continue to grow, with streams rising more than 50 percent, year over year (globally). The streaming service recently revealed several of the service’s top-performing country artists over the past year.
Kacey Musgraves‘ Golden Hour, which earned the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year honor in November, and recently earned Grammy nominations for the overall Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year, has earned Apple Music’s overall Album of the Year honor. Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy” has also been named among Apple Music’s Best of 2018 Editorial Picks; the service premiered a live performance video of Musgraves’ “Slow Burn” back in October.
Jason Aldean ranks as the service’s most-streamed country male artist for 2018. His latest album Rearview Town was released to Apple Music with a two-week premium window; the album debuted at No. 1 on Apple’s country albums chart and broke the record for most-streamed country album in its first week.
Carrie Underwood is Apple Music’s most-streamed country female artist for 2018, as her latest album Cry Pretty was the No. 5 most-streamed country album overall this year.
Kane Brown‘s “Heaven” earned the title of most-streamed country song on Apple Music for 2018. Brown’s album Experiment set a new US record on Apple Music for the largest debut of a country album in the first 24 hours of release. Apple Music partnered with Brown on the release of his No. 1 album with Apple Music Presents, an artist-led program that documents the making of the album and includes a live show for fans.
The Apple Music most-streamed breakout country artist of 2018 was Luke Combs. In terms of streams, he trails only behind Aldean in numbers of overall streams. His album This One’s For You Too was the most-streamed country album of the year during its first week of release, and “Beautiful Crazy” is the most-streamed song from a new country artist on Apple Music in 2018. His track “She’s Got The Best of Me” was included in Apple Music’s Best of 2018 Editorial picks.
Apple Music has doubled down on its commitment to country music over the past year. An Apple Music Content Creation office is slated to open in Nashville’s Wedgewood-Houston area in 2019. Earlier this year, Apple executive Jay Liepis relocated to Nashville to begin building and leading a team to become more involved with Nashville’s country music community. Liepis has been at Apple for more than 13 years, and has overseen all music programming and relationships across the music business. His career also includes time as an online marketing manager for Sony BMG Music Entertainment.
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