MRC Data’s 2021 Mid-Year Canada Report

Catalogue is king and continues to show growth in all formats (streaming, downloads, CD and vinyl sales), the fascination with 12-inch vinyl continues to increase, but physical sales overall are miniscule and the paid digital download format is all but dead.

MRC Data’s 2021 Mid-Year Canada Report

By External Source

The following snapshot tracks the biggest trends to date in music consumption for the 6-month period from Jan. 1, 2021, through July 1, 2021 (as compared to Jan. 3, 2020, through July 2, 2020). The following pictorials and data are taken from an abridged version of the report provided to FYI by data and analytics provider MRC Data, formerly Nielsen SoundScan. The analytics are tabulated from POS reports, streaming services, and audio monitors.

Catalogue is king and continues to show growth in all formats (streaming, downloads, CD and vinyl sales), the fascination with 12-inch vinyl continues to increase but physical sales overall are miniscule and the paid digital download format is all but dead. This said, overall music listening on video and streaming platforms is up almost 11-percent, according to the latest MRC data.


Unsurprisingly, The Weeknd is Canada’s No. 1 artist using metrics from streams and spins, the No. 1 best-selling album by a Canadian is a deluxe, multi-disc symphonic set from Harmonium with the Montreal Symphony that sold 25K copies and was exclusively available through a dedicated band website. Charlotte Cardin’s Phoenix comes in 2nd with 20K sales, followed by The Tragically Hip’s Saskadelphia with 17K sales.

Link here to access and download the MRC Data 2021 Mid-Year Canada Report.

Cardin, Alex Henry Foster and The Hip have the top 3 digital album sales in the period, followed in 5th place by Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen who tied with 5K sales for Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Dangerous: The Double Album respectively.

The Tragically Hip’s aforementioned album comes in as the No. 1 best-selling vinyl album with 4K sales, followed by Harry Styles’ Fine Line and Taylor Swift’s evermore with 3K sales each.

Breaking down popularity by genre, Pop leads with a 32-percent, followed by R&B/Hip-Hop–13.3% Alt. Rock-7.4%, Country–7.2%, and EDM at 3.9%.


Music consumption has continued to grow during the first half of 2021:

  • New albums from Canadian stars Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes helped tide fans over until their next tours, a new EP of unreleased material from The Tragically Hip brought closure for fans of late frontman Gord Downie, while The Weeknd sustained his chart dominance from 2020.

  • In total, overall consumption was up 10.6% year-over-year during the first six months of 2021, led by an 11.4% lift in on-demand streaming during the time period. Vinyl bounced back after a drop in 2020, posting a 53% sales lift over last year’s first six months.

New consumption pattern for major awards shows:

  • May 23:The 2021 Billboard Music Awards air on NBC, and helped encourage gains and debuts on the following week's Billboard 200 chart (dated June 4) for a number of performers and winners. Among them: Glass Animals' Dreamland jumped 76-68 (12,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending May 27, up 7%, according to MRC Data), BTS' Be (12,000; up 50%), Map of the Soul: 7 (123-76; 11,000 - up 29%) and Love Yourself: Answer (152-109; 10,000 - up 20%), P!nk's Greatest Hits… So Far!!! (re-entry at No. 140 with 8,000; up 26%) and the debut of her new live album All I Know SoFar: Setlist (No. 13 with 28,000), Twenty One Pilots' Scaled and Icy (debut at No. 3 with 75,000).
  • June 6: The 50th Juno Awards, Canada’s most-watched music awards show, was produced remotely for the second year in a row. The Weeknd took home five awards, including artist, album and single of the year. Justin Bieber, who scored pop album of the year, saw a 99% stream increase for his song Somebody in the two days following the broadcast, from 22,000 to 43,000, compared to the two days prior. Other songs that saw notable streaming increases during the same time period include Humanitarian Award winners The Tragically Hip’s It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken (83%) as well as performers William Prince’s The Spark (49%) and Hall Of Fame recipient Jann Arden’s Good Mother (43%).

Justin Bieber Records

  • First-week streams for Justice (26.2 million), the sixth studio album from Stratford, Ontario, native Justin Bieber, which entered the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart at No. 1 on the chart dated April 3. 
  • 5.2 million first-week streams for Peaches, Justice’s lead single (featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon), which debuted at No. 1 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart dated April 3. The single also marks the first No. 1 for Toronto native Daniel Caesar, who previously peaked at No. 86 on the Canadian Hot 100 in 2018 with Who Hurt You? 
  • 664,000 first week on-demand streams earned for gospel EP Freedom, released just two weeks after Justice. The project debuted at No. 2 on the Christian Albums Chart dated April 13, Bieber’s first entry on that tally.

Canadian Females Make Waves

  • Following the top five CHR success of Calgary’s Tate McRae with her single You Broke Me First in December 2020, two more first-time charting Canadian female artists scored strong radio success in the first half of 2021. Vancouver’s Jessia reached No. 5 Hot AC (799 spins, May 22) and No. 7 CHR (1031 spins, May 8) with I’m Not Pretty, and Toronto’s AJA peaked at No. 8 Hot AC (705 spins, June 12) with Red Button.
  • Toronto’s Delaney Jane scored her biggest radio hit to date, reaching No. 13 CHR (823 spins, May 15) with Just as Much.

Homegrown Country Stars Top the Charts

  • Canadian country stars continue to score top-charting hits at the radio format. Brett Kissel scored two chart-toppers, A Few Good Stories (1820 spins, Jan. 23) and “Make a Life, Not a Living” (1771 Kissel spins, July 5). Dallas Smith’s Some Things Never Change (1728 spins, Feb. 6), Dean Brody’s Boys (1825 spins, April 3), High Valley’s River’s Still Running (1689 spins, April 17) and Jade Eagleson’s All Night To Figure It Out (1780 spins, June 28) all reached No. 1 in the first half of the year.


NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have also become a new revenue stream for artists to distribute music and artwork: from February 25 to April 25, 2021 alone, musicians made an estimated $55.7 million from NFT sales, based on a report from Water & Music.


  • CANADIAN ARTISTS -- Two of Canada’s biggest artists, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd, dominate the top of the midyear album and song charts. Bieber’s Justice is the most-consumed album for the first six months of 2021 by a Canadian artist, while the singles Peaches and Anyone sit at No. 2 and No. 4 respectively on the most-consumed song list from a Canadian artist. The Weeknd’s After Hours and The Highlights are at No. 2 and No. 3 on the top Canadian albums list, and the singles Save Your Tears and Blinding Light” are No. 1 and No. 3 respectively on the Canadian songs list. Thanks to strong sales and streams, Charlotte Cardin’s Phoenix is the No. 4 most-consumed album by a Canadian artist and Tate McRae’s breakthrough single, You Broke Me First, lands as the No. 5 most-consumed song by a Canadian artist.
  • RAP -- Pop Smoke’s 2020 album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon continues to do brisk business in 2021, as the set stands as the most popular rap album at the mid-year point (101,000 equivalent album units earned). After debuting at No. 1 on the weekly Billboard Canadian Albums chart dated July 18, 2020, the set has left the Top 10 for one week.  Masked Wolf’s Astronaut in the Ocean, 24kGoldn’s Mood, featuring Iann Dior, and Polo G’s Rapstar were among the most-consumed rap tracks of 2021 at mid-year. Mood also stands as the most-played rap track at radio.
  • COUNTRY -- Morgan Wallen’s blockbuster Dangerous: The Double Album — which spent eight weeks atop the all-genre Billboard Canadian Albums chart — is the country genre’s most popular album at mid-year, with 157,000 equivalent album units earned. Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) – a rerecording of her 2008 album Fearless – is 2021’s No. 3 biggest country set, with 47,000 units earned. Though a rerecording, the effort marked Swift’s first country album since 2012’s Red.  Luke Combs, who also has the No. 2 country album at mid-year, has the No. 1 most-consumed country song so far in 2021, with “Forever After All.” The song reached No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard Canadian Hot 100 last November and spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Canada Country tally.
  • R&B -- The Weeknd’s 2020 release After Hours rules as the top R&B album at mid-year 2021, with 98,000 equivalent album units earned so far this year. The set’s recent hit Save Your Tears, boosted by a remix with Ariana Grande, reached No. 1 on the weekly Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart. It also stands as the No. 2 most-played song on radio, among all genres, at the mid-year point.  A song that has been inescapable since its ascent up the charts in 2020, The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights is the top R&B song of 2021 thus far, by total consumption.
  • DANCE/ELECTRONIC -- The most-consumed dance/electronic track of 2021 is Travis Scott and HVME’s Goosebumps a tune that started its life back in 2016 as a Scott track featuring Kendrick Lamar. It was later reworked into a deep house cut by HVME in 2020, and Scott lent his vocals to the cut in January. The track reached No. 10 on the all-genre Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart in May.
  • ROCK -- Machine Gun Kelly’s 2020 release Tickets to My Downfall is the top rock album of 2021 thus far, with 49,000 equivalent album units earned. The set was largely produced and written with Blink-182’s Travis Barker and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Canadian Albums chart. Familiar favorites crowd the remainder of the top five rock albums of 2021, including Elton John’s Diamonds, The Tragically Hip’s Yer Favourites and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.  Glass Animals’ mainstream smash Heat Waves is among the most-consumed rock tracks of 2021 in Canada (No. 1at the mid-year point), after having reached No. 21 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart – the band’s first entry on the all-genre tally.


Most popular songs outside the US:

  • Globally, streaming’s growth continued to heat up in territories like Japan, Poland, and Turkey, which posted the highest growth in audio streaming year-over-year during the first two quarters. 
  • This was reflected in hits by Nathan Evans, NCT Dream and more on the Billboard Global charts during the measured time period.

TOP 5 Popular International Hits That Have Yet to Debut on The U.S. Hot 100


  • Wellerman by Nathan Evans (Scotland)

  • Lut Gaye by Jubin Nautiyal featuring Emraan Hashmi (India)

  • Hot Sauce by NCT Dream (South Korea)

  • Ton by Sprte X Guygeegee (Vietnam)

  • La Curiosidad by DJ Nelson Presenta Jay Wheeler & Myke Towers (Puerto Rico)

The Afro-Pop Takeover -- Afro-Pop is poised for a global music breakthrough that could soon mirror K-Pop in its widespread reach. Crossover songs like Master KG’s Jerusalema (featuring Burna Boy and Nomcebo Zikode), which has accumulated 20.6 million Canadian on-demand streams, and popular African artists like Davido and Wizkid, as well as Burna Boy, collaborating with Western pop stars are at the helm of this trend.


Spotlight on Japan -- Music’s No. 2 market is finally making a meaningful transition into the streaming era, with physical sales down 9% from 2019 to 2020 but streaming revenue up 27% during the same time period, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

Spotlight on France & Spain -- A pair of MRC Data’s most recent Music 360 surveys took a deep dive into the latest consumer trends in France and Spain. Of the two countries, France is less musically inclined, with 75% of the general population engaging with music (compared to 86% in Spain). 

French music fans are still slowly embracing streaming services, with 29% of music listeners discovering songs through audio streaming and only 10% currently paying for a streaming service. 

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Courtesy Photo

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