Weekly Pop Streams Hit 7.5 Billion

Ed Sheeran photographed by Ben Watts

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” is the most streamed song, with 691,000 on-demands; his Divide, the top album so far this year, with 743,000 units, is believed to have tipped overall streams into a record-breaking week of 7.5 million following its March 3 release. (Photo: Ben Watts)

For the first time, on-demand audio streams had a 7.5 billion week, according to Nielsen Music’s Mid-Year U.S. Report which tracked a total of 184 billion streams for the period ending June 29, 2017.  That marks a sizable 62.4% increase over the same time period in 2016.

On-demand audio streams have reached over 184 billion streams so far in 2017, a considerable 62.4% increase over the same time period in 2016. “The first half of 2017 has seen some incredible new benchmarks for the music industry,” Nielsen Music senior VP for music industry insights David Bakula said. “The rapid adoption of streaming platforms by consumers has generated engagement with music on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”

Meanwhile, overall on-demand streams (including video) have surpassed 284 billion streams this year, an increase of 36.4% over the same period in 2016. There was however a decrease in album sales (-18.3%), album sales + TEA (Track Equivalent Albums) (-19.9%), digital album sales (-19.9%) and physical album sales (-17%), highlighting consumer listening habits and an industry focus on single releases. Total audio consumption (albums + TEA + Audio on-demand SEA) is up 8.9% over last year.

The high-water mark of 7.5 billion weekly streams — the first time streaming crossed the 7 billion mark — occurred the week ending March 9 (Billboard’s weeks run Thursday to Thursday) — during which SXSW, the iHeartRadio Music Awards and March Madness were all taking place (approximately one month after the Feb. 12 Grammy Awards). The release of Ed Sheeran’s latest album, Divide, on March 3, is believed to have also been a seismic factor in the record-breaking week, according to Bakula.

The Nielsen Music Mid-Year charts, presented by Billboard, reveal that the top streaming on-demand song (audio and video combined) is Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” 689,756,000; followed by Migos’ (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) “Bad and Boujee,” 648,129,000; and Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s (feat. Justin Bieber) “Despacito.”Nielsen Top 10 albums chart for first half of 2017The unstoppable

Sheeran’s “Shape of You”is also tops in terms of total song consumption (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio) moving 4.53 million units in the first six months of 2017. The track tops the Digital Song Sale charts with over 2 million downloads sold so far this year.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the leading album in total volume this year with total activity of more than 1.77 million units (albums, track equivalent albums and audio on-demand streaming equivalent albums combined) and held the number one spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks. DAMN. is followed by Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) with 1.74 million units and Drake’s More Life with 1.69 million units. Drake’s release of More Life on March 18 set a record for audio on-demand streams in one week, with its tracks earning a combined 385 million streams, beating the record held by his previous album, Views, which logged 245 million streams in its first week for its songs.

Nielsen Music vinyl sales first half 2017Super Bowl LI in Houston proved that the biggest day in American sports is still a boon for its halftime performers. Following her halftime performance, Lady Gaga saw a massive 1,580% lift in digital track sales over the previous week, as well as increases of 844% in albums with TEA and SEA (Streaming Equivalent Albums) and 210% for overall on-demand audio streams. Sales of Gaga’s album Joanne grew 814% with TEA and SEA in the week following the Super Bowl, compared to the prior week.


The Grammy Awards also proved to be a catalyst for engagement, with many of the artists who performed seeing considerable lifts in sales and streaming during the week following the awards. The songs performed at the Grammys added 319,000 song sales and nearly 21 million on-demand streams. Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book led all album on-demand streams with a unit increase of over 15 million; Adele’s 25 was a distant second with a unit increase of over 5 million on-demand streams. Prince was the single-most streamed artist, with an increase of over 16 million on-demand streams (5500% increase). Chance the Rapper followed close behind, with an increase of just under 16 million on-demand streams (84% increase).

Another catalyst occurred the week of June 15 when Taylor Swift released her catalog on all streaming platforms for the first time since 2014, resulting in a 551% uptick for that artist.

Click here for the full report.

Lady Gaga performing at Super Bowl LI

Photo of Lady Gaga performing at Super Bowl 51 courtesy of Nielsen Music.

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