· This was an extremely successful year for Drake, who had the most overall volume; the most digital song sales; the most streams (by a huge margin); and the most heavily consumed album of the year with Views. In its debut week, Views became the only album to surpass 1M in weekly total volume (albums + track equivalents + on-demand streaming equivalents), and set an all-time record for most streams from an album with over 245M.
· In 2016, there were 12 occurrences where an album’s songs had over 100M audio streams in a week. This was led by Drake’s Views, which accomplished that feat an amazing 8x, but also included J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only (with the second highest debut week stream volume in history) , The Weeknd’s Starboy (2x) and Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
· Only 6 albums debuted with over 200K in album sales in their first week in 2016 (there were 13 such cases in 2015), led by Drake with 852K first week sales for Views. Other albums to surpass the 200K mark in their first week include Beyoncé’s Lemonade (485K), J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only (363K), Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self Destruct (282K), Frank Ocean’s Blonde(232K) and The Weeknd’s Starboy (209K).
· Chance the Rapper’s album Coloring Book became the first to surpass 500K with only streaming album equivalents. Since its debut in May, the album has stayed on the Billboard 200 chart for 33 consecutive weeks, peaking at #8. The album is the 58th highest volume album of the year without the benefit of a single sale, which is truly an historic accomplishment.
· While song sales showed steep declines (-25%) vs. last year, song consumption (sales + audio streaming equivalents at a rate of 150 streams to 1 song sale) continues to be strong with growing contribution from audio streams. In 2016, 15 songs eclipsed the 3M volume mark (song sales + audio streaming equivalents), despite only 5 songs reaching over 2M in sales. The song with the most volume for the year was Drake’s “One Dance,” which had over 5.5M song sales + audio streaming equivalents and 64% of that volume came from audio streams. In fact, the top 5 songs of the year all had a greater share of volume coming from streaming than from sales.
· For the second straight year, Adele’s 25 tops the Album Sales chart. 25 becomes only the second album in Nielsen Music history to lead the Album Sales chart in two consecutive calendar years. The first album to accomplish that feat was Adele’s 21 album in 2011 & 2012.
· Despite the fact that Adele’s 25 was the best-selling album of the year, Adele was only the second best-selling album artist of the year. The best-selling artist in terms of album sales was Prince, who passed away suddenly in April. Prince’s albums sold over 2.2M units in 2016 and he was the only artist to sell over 1M digital and physical albums this year. Prince also sold 5.4M digital songs, giving him the highest sales volume of the year (albums + track equivalents), just out-selling Drake and Adele. The day after his death was announced, Prince sold over 1M digital songs and over 200K digital albums. Prince’s catalog was very tightly controlled on streaming platforms and the gains that were seen after his passing were far more evident in the sales numbers than what we saw from some other comparable artists that passed this year.
· Social media continued to drive song sales, particularly in cases where a viral visual component became a driver for the song. Rea Sremmurd’s “ Beatles” was on its way to being a hit when it became the unofficial soundtrack of The Mannequin Challenge. A-list celebrities, sports stars and political figures took part in the challenge, which helped the song to receive the 28th highest volume (sales + audio stream equivalents) this year.
· The number of titles reaching milestones in 2016 exemplified the industry as a whole. Streaming milestones were hit with record numbers. There were 27 songs that surpassed 200M on-demand audio streams, while in 2015 only two songs hit that mark. Also, 12 songs surpassed 200M on-demand video streams for the year vs. only seven last year. In 2015, only three songs surpassed 500M total on-demand audio streams, led by Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” with 617M. In 2016, six songs surpassed 500M, with two (Desiigner’s “Panda” and Rihanna’s “Work”) surpassing 700M.