Nielsen Music Canada's Year-End Insights & Trends

Nielsen Music Canada (NYSE: NLSN) has released its 2018 Year-End Highlights, reporting on the key industry trends and behaviours that shaped the year in music for the 12 months beginning December 2

Nielsen Music Canada's Year-End Insights & Trends

By External Source

Nielsen Music Canada (NYSE: NLSN) has released its 2018 Year-End Highlights, reporting on the key industry trends and behaviours that shaped the year in music for the 12 months beginning December 29, 2017, through January 3, 2019. 

The report highlights consumer engagement across the music industry’s most popular platforms, including streaming, social media, radio, live events, and film.

According to Nielsen, the music industry experienced significant overall growth in 2018, with total album equivalent audio consumption up 21% over 2017, driven by a 47% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year. 

The album with the highest total consumption is Drake’s Scorpion, with 424,000 on-demand audio consumption units, including over 481 million audio-on-demand streams.  The Canadian superstar also has the No. 1 most-consumed song (digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio) with “God’s Plan.” 


The single is the top streamed song of 2018 with over 138 million audio and video combined streams.  Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” was the leader in song sales, with just over 207,000 in digital downloads.  The biggest selling album of the year is the A Star Is Born soundtrack with album sales of over 92,000 units.

Key Year-End Insights (through week-ending 1/3/19):

  • Streaming volume continued to rise with the total number of on-demand audio song streams surpassing 59 billion in 2018, a sizable 47% increase over the same time period in 2017.

  • Overall on-demand music streaming volume, including video, has increased 45% since the same period last year.

  • Total album equivalent audio consumption (albums + track equivalent albums (TEA) + on-demand audio streaming equivalent albums {SEA}) is up 21% over last year.

  • Despite sharp declines in digital purchasing, Digital consumption (digital albums + track equivalent albums + total streaming equivalent albums) is up a healthy 22% over last year.

  • Vinyl continued to soar, up 25% over the same period last year, surpassing one million units.


“The music industry in Canada is thriving following yet another year of tremendous growth and engagement,” said Paul Shaver, Vice President Nielsen Entertainment Canada. “Canadians are listening and engaging with more music than ever before, and we’re seeing an increased diversity of taste among listeners.  Nielsen Music Canada is excited to continue providing the key insights that help move the industry forward.”


Canadian Artists Find Success — Home and Abroad:

Drake, Shawn Mendes, Loud Luxury loomed large in the galaxy of home-bred hits. In addition to Drake, other Canadian artists had a strong 2018 at home and abroad.

Shawn Mendes, who just received two big Grammy nominations, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart and the Billboard 200 in the U.S., and Top 5 in a number of countries across Europe, with his self-titled album, while the single “In My Blood” topped Billboard’s U.S. Adult Top 40 airplay chart. 

London, ON duo, Loud Luxury, earned a breakout hit at home with “Body,” which topped the Billboard Canadian CHR and AC airplay charts for multiple weeks and has compiled nearly 77 million streams in Canada this year.


The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy EP topped the Billboard album charts in both the U.S. and Canada, while fellow R&B act Tory Lanez scored two Top 5 albums in 2018 in both countries, including his first chart-topper in Canada. Two albums from Michael Bublé reached No. 1 late in the year on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. 

On the singles front, Daniel Caesar scored two Billboard No. 1 songs on the U.S. Adult R&B airplay chart.  At Country, High Valley picked up their first Top 10 airplay hit in the U.S. on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Lindsay Ell also landed her first Canadian airplay No. 1 and Top 20 U.S. Country Airplay single, while Dallas Smith, Dean Brody, Tebey, Gord Bamford and Meghan Patrick also picked up Billboard Canadian Country airplay No. 1 songs.


Canadians received a total of 26 Grammy nominations for the award show scheduled for February 10, 2019.

The Year of Drake: Scorpion stings chart, consumption records with multiple No. 1 hits

Drake’s Scorpion was the blockbuster album to beat in 2018, shattering consumption records.  As the year’s most consumed album, Scorpion crushed the one-week streaming record during its first week of release, with 70 million on-demand audio streams for its songs, surpassing the previous record holder, Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys, which logged 43 million on-demand audio streams for its songs in its first week in May.

The album’s lead singles, "God's Plan" (138 million on-demand streams), "Nice For What" (85 million on-demand streams), "In My Feelings” (99 million on-demand streams) and “Nonstop” (48 million on-demand streams) spent a combined 22 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.

The Strength Of Women: Canadian Female emerging artists highlight 2018 successes

Female artists continued to make a big splash in 2018 thanks to No. 1 hits and popular singles/albums from Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Ariana Grande and a growing group of emerging Canadian female artists at radio.  In 2018, 14 songs from female artists, either lead or featured, peaked in the Top 5 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Airplay chart in 2018, continuing the breakthroughs reached the previous year.

Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion Of Privacy, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, spending two weeks at the top.  She was either the lead or featured artist on 23 songs that reached the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, including her collaboration with Maroon 5 on “Girls Like You,” which spent ten weeks at No. 1.


Ariana Grande’s Sweetener scored the largest streaming week for a pop album by a female artist upon its August release with 13 million on-demand audio streams.  Three months later, her standalone single “thank u, next” became her first-ever Billboard Canadian Hot 100 No. 1 single, picking up over 47 million streams since its release. In addition to Cardi B and Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Camila Cabello and Carrie Underwood all had chart-topping albums in 2018.

At radio, female lead and featured artists had 14 Top 5 songs on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Airplay chart, compared with nine in 2017, including chart-topping songs from Cardi B (featured on Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” and via a collaboration with Bruno Mars on “Finesse”), Camila Cabello (“Havana”) and Maren Morris (alongside Zedd and Grey on “The Middle”).

Canadian female artists also had a strong 2018, including breakout hits from Bulow, Delaney Jane, Ria Mae, The Beaches and Tenille Townes.  Lindsay Ell and Meghan Patrick scored #1 songs at Country radio this year, the first time since 1999 that two Canadian female Country artists picked up chart-topping songs in the same year.  Ginette Reno’s A Jamais album is the fourth highest selling album of the year and Marie-Mai scored a chart-topping song on the Francophone airplay chart this year.


Soundtracks Score Big: Blockbuster movies post gangbuster music sales

Black Panther: The Album, assembled by Kendrick Lamar, became the first soundtrack in 12 months to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, eventually spending three weeks at the top.  The set, which features hits from The Weeknd and SZA, was No. 9 on the year-end Billboard Canadian Album chart.

A Star Is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart, the longest running chart-topping soundtrack since Frozen spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 2014. A Star Is Born was also the top-selling album in Canada in 2018 with 92,000 units with the lead single, “Shallow,” spending 13 weeks at the top of the Billboard Digital Songs chart.

The Greatest Showman soundtrack, which came out late in 2017, landed at No. 15 on the Billboard Canadian Album year-end chart and also spawned an all-star covers album.

In addition, Queen earned its first Top 5 album in the Nielsen SoundScan era with the soundtrack to the hit biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.  And the soundtrack for the hit sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again topped the best-selling album chart for two straight weeks.

K-Pop Boom Reaches New Heights: BTS leads record chart representation, consumption, social activity for Korean acts

Social media phenomenon BTS translated their massive online following to continued chart success in 2018, with September’s Love Yourself becoming the band’s first album, and the first K-Pop album, to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart.  But for the first time ever, songs by multiple K-Pop acts achieved success on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 and other charts, suggesting the K-Pop revolution may have only just begun.

BTS captured the three most-talked-about moments on Twitter during May’s Billboard Music Awards.  The band’s arrival on the red carpet prompted 208,245 interactions on Twitter, followed by the members’ meeting with Tyra Banks (135,029) and the band’s win for Top Social Artist (128,479).

Korean girl group BLACKPINK scored their two highest Billboard Canadian Hot 100 entries with June’s “Ddu-Du-Ddu-Du” and November’s Dua Lipa collaboration “Kiss and Make Up.”  The group’s catalogue has picked up 54 million on-demand streams in 2018.

In March, South Korean rapper J-Hope reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart with the EP Hope World, and in November, all-male K-Pop outfit EXO scored their second top 100 album with Don’t Mess Up My Tempo.

Nielsen is the music industry’s trusted source for understanding how fans interact with music across physical and digital platforms and services.  From streaming and digital downloads to physical purchases and live events, Nielsen’s data-driven music products and world-class research provides deep insights into trends impacting the industry, providing music business leaders and artists with a complete picture of market performance.


NOTE: The term “total album equivalent consumption” in this release describes the number of physical and digital albums that were sold and the total number of album equivalent songs from downloads and song streaming volume.  For the sake of clarity, the definition of album equivalent consumption does not include listening to music on broadcast radio or digital radio broadcasts.  Unless otherwise noted, all numbers are volume.

50 Cent

50 Cent


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