Nielsen's Canada Mid-Year Music Report

Update: In the newsletter Wednesday edition it was incorrectly stated that that music videos have become the preferred song-streaming format of choice. This is incorrect. Audio-streaming services have the highest listener capture rate among consumers; however, as stated in this article, video song-streams have increased at a tremendous rate.

Audio streaming is up big-time according to the Nielsen Music Canada’s 2019 mid-year report, but we knew that before the 30-page review was released late last week. What is eye-catching are the data sets that confirm by how much music fans are streaming on the short-form video platform TikTok (formerly and YouTube, and it is mind-boggling. On-demand audio streaming is up 35% but on video platforms, audio streams are up a towering 66%.


The document also reports that CD and vinyl LP sales have tanked 27.2% compared to the first six months of 2018, selling 2.8M copies--still enough to generate $30M+ at retail. Whether it’s a blip or a market trend or withering demand or both, new vinyl LP unit sales slumped 2.3%, from 398K t0 389K copies in the survey window that ran Jan. 4 through June 20, 2019.

Digital album sales posted a 19.1% decline, to 1.9M copies, and digital track sales tumbled 27.6%, to 16.7M.

Breaking down catalogue (releases over 10 months old) and current titles, the former represents 60.8% of all current consumption, a 26.1% increase--whereas currents have a 9 share with 38.2% of sales, down from 42.7% in the 2018 half-year survey.

By genre, rock (Alt and Hard Rock) music has the highest share of album sales by a wide margin, followed by Christian/Gospel, Jazz, Classical, and Country.

On-demand audio streaming by genre has Rap leading the way, followed by Latin, and Electronic/Dance music.

Screen exposure has helped drive interest. By example, Motley Crue’s catalogue spiked by 774% during the week ending March 28, following the March 22 premiere of Netflix biopic The Dirt, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody s/t sold 41K copies after the film took home the Best Actor trophy at the Academy Awards.

The report notes that trap and mumble rap continue as “the preferred musical style at a high margin” over the second favorite, Contemporary Rhythmic Pop, thanks in part to popular songs from acts such as Post Malone, Lil Nas X, and DaBaby. Other leading styles this year include Contemporary Pop Power Ballad, Pop Reggaeton, and Urban Contemporary.

Billie Eilish's songs, ten of which are among the 200 most-consumed songs of 2019 YTD, registered the most unique mood and style pivots of any other major pop catalogue.

Though 2019 is only halfway over, Canadian artists have already tallied more No 1s on the Country Airplay chart than any other year in the Nielsen BDS era. Of the 10 artists, eight have achieved the milestone for the first time.

Canadian artists songs earning the most airplay in the period as follows: Tyler Shaw, With You (46K spins); Scott Helman, Hang Ups (40K); Loud Luxury & Anders, Love No More (39K); Loud Luxury feat. Brando, Body ((36K); and Bulow, Two Punks in Love (36K).

Overall, the top 5 songs based on airplay: Halsey, Without Me (70K); Panic! At the Disco, High Hopes (63K), Marshmello & Bastille, Happier ((63K); Ellie Goulding & Diplo ft. Swae Lee, Close To Me (51K); and Sa Smith with Normani, Dancing With A Stranger (51K).

The complete pdf version of the report can be requested by linking here to the Nielsen Canada website. All data sets provided for limited use by copyright owner The Nielsen Company.

Separate from the Nielsen report, international music industry umbrella org IFPI reported that Canada’s 2018 recorded music revenues totaled $572M. By sector, streaming led with revenue of US$264.8M. Physical sales earned US$64.4M, and performance and sync income in the year totaled US$47.8M.

Canada music revenues by format – that includes streaming, downloads and physical sales of CDs and vinyl – increased, from US$374.7M in 2017 to US$393.4M in 2018, although compact disc unit sales almost halved, from 10.35M to 5.40M in the same period.


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