2020 MRC Data Year-End Report
Presented for the first time in collaboration with Billboard, reveals that total audio consumption overcame significant behavioral changes in 2020 and grew 11.6% over the year prior
Credit MRC Data
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THE YEAR IN GLOBAL
• In the global recorded-music market, audio on-demand streaming finished the year with a 22.6% increase in total audio streaming. This year’s growth was led by territories like Japan, Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, Brazil and Germany, which saw the biggest gains in weekly audio streaming growth since the start of the pandemic and accounted for a combined 22.8% of total audio streams in 2020.
THE YEAR COVID CHANGED EVERYTHING
Before the world shut down, audio streaming was growing steadily through early March, up 20% over the same period in 2019, while total audio consumption was up 15% in the first 10 weeks of the year.
• Despite a 5.7% decline during the first eight weeks of lockdown, on-demand audio consumption rebounded throughout the remainder of the year and finished 2020 with a 17% increase — to a record 872.6 billion streams.
• For full year 2020, total audio consumption was up 11.6% to 756.8 million album equivalent units. Sales of albums plus tracks, or track-equivalent albums, were down by just 11.9%
MUSIC’S BIG WINNERS
Genres that saw streaming increases:
• Country: Though it has previously lagged behind other genres in consumption on streaming services, country music saw a big spike this year as fans went digital in droves without being able to catch their favorite acts live on tour.
• Children’s Music: Families turned to music to keep their away-from-school kids entertained, prompting a 5% increase in on-demand audio streams of children’s music during the first week of lockdown that sustained growth through the week ending May 7.
• Latin: Spanish-language urban and pop music continued its convergence with the mainstream, as new albums fromBad Bunny and J Balvin spearheaded another year of growth for the Latin genre. Total consumption was up 26.9% year to date, including a 28.8% increase in on-demand streams since March 13.
The artists who outperformed a crowded marketplace:
• Lil Baby – The rapper’s late-February album, My Turn, was one of the last major albums released just before the COVID-19 pandemic and finished 2020 as the year’s most-consumed album with 2.63 million equivalent album units earned — including 3.9 billion on-demand streams for its tracks. June single “The Bigger Picture” became the most-streamed original song to be released in the wake of the protests for racial justice following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, with 211.2 million on-demand audio streams.
• Taylor Swift – Released with just 24 hours notice on July 24, Taylor Swift’s folklore scored the biggest sales week of 2020. As her seventh album to enter at the chart’s summit, folklore helped Swift set a new record among women for most debuts at No. 1.
• The Weeknd – The Canadian pop/R&B star broke several chart milestones with his blockbuster single “Blinding Lights.” In September, the song surpassed Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” for most weeks spent in the top 10 of the Hot 100 (28). At radio, it led Billboard’s all-format Radio Songs chart for an unprecedented 26 weeks, surpassing the Goo Goo Dolls’ previous record of 18 weeks at No. 1, with “Iris” in 1998.
• Harry Styles – “Watermelon Sugar” became the pop star’s first No. 1 on the Hot 100 dated Aug. 15, with a 614% increase in downloads sold (63,000) and an 8% increase in radio reach (71.7 million in audience impressions).
• 24kGoldn – The San Francisco rapper-singer scored the year’s most-streamed song by a new artist was “Mood,” featuring iann dior. The song debuted on the Hot 100, following a viral video trend on TikTok based on the song’s hook that sparked 6.7 million on-demand audio streams the week ending Aug. 13.
A Historic Year for Female Rappers
Before 2020, just six female rappers achieved No. 1 singles at the Hot 100 summit across the chart’s history. But in 2020 alone, five female rappers were performers on No. 1 singles as the lead or featured act, including career-first No. 1 singles from Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. and a return to the top spot from Cardi B, who previously logged two No. 1s in 2018.
Social Media’s Impact On Breaking (And Re-Breaking) Hits
• Roddy Ricch: The rapper’s viral hit “The Box'' became the second non-holiday song to top the Hot 100 in 2020. Buoying the song’s popularity was a viral TikTok meme. The track finished 2020 as the year’s No. 1 most-consumed song, with 1.3 billion on-demand streams and 1.7 billion in audience impressions at radio.
• BENEE: The New Zealand singer-songwriter’s song “Supalonely” (featuring Gus Dapperton) became one of the first unofficial anthems of the quarantine era after TikTok memes helped the song debut on the March 28 Hot 100 at No. 88. The song finished 2020 as the year’s No. 134 most-consumed song, with 218.7 million on-demand streams and 659.5 million in audience impressions at radio.
• Jawsh 685 And Jason Derulo: New Zealand producer Jawsh 685’s “Savage Love (Laxed — Siren Beat)” featuring pop-R&B singer Derulo was the No. 1 most popular song on TikTok thanks to its viral dance challenge. “Savage Love” became the first Hot 100 No. 1 for the 18-year-old producer and the second for Derulo when it rose from No. 8 to No. 1 on the chart dated Oct. 17, thanks to a remix featuring BTS.
• Fleetwood Mac: Forty-three years after “Dreams” became the group’s sole Hot 100 No. 1, the song returned to the chart when a popular TikTok video started to reach mainstream audiences. The song eventually rose to a 2020 chart peak of No. 12 on the Hot 100 and accumulated 249 million on-demand streams, 62.6 million audience impressions at radio and 147,000 downloads this year.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
George Floyd’s death on May 25 led to a widespread protest movement for racial justice and police reform, which led to a resurgence in playlisting and streams of protest songs both recent and classic. Songs by Childish Gambino, J. Cole,Kendrick Lamar, 21 Savage and N.W.A saw the biggest lift in average daily audio streams from May 28 to June 6.
KOREAN POP ACTS REACH NEW MAINSTREAM HEIGHTS
• BTS: The group scored its first three Hot 100 No. 1 singles in 2020 in a span of just three months — making it the fastest group to achieve that milestone with its first No. 1 singles since The Beatles in 1964. BTS became the first all-South Korean act to top the Hot 100 with “Dynamite,” also scoring the biggest digital sales week in nearly three years, with 265,000 downloads sold.
• BLACKPINK: The all-female group made a splash on the charts in 2020, showing that Korean pop’s breakthrough in American wasn’t limited to all-male acts. The quartet rocketed from No. 65 to No. 1 on the Oct. 17-dated Billboard Artist 100 chart, becoming the top U.S. musical act for the first time, following The Album’s No. 2 debut on the Billboard 200. Blackpink became just the third South Korean act to top the chart, following BTS and SuperM.
• POP SMOKE, 1999-2020: The Brooklyn-bred rapper spent two nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with his debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, which debuted in July just four months after his death. Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon rounded out 2020 as the year’s No. 3 most-consumed album, with 2.764 billion on-demand audio streams for its 19 tracks.
• Juice WRLD, 1998-2019: The Chicago rapper-singer died in late 2019, which carried consumption of his catalog as well as posthumous release Legends Never Die well into 2020. The set surpassed Lil Baby’s My Turn to score the biggest streaming week of 2020 the week ending July 16 when it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 497,000 equivalent album units.
• CHARLIE DANIELS, 1936-2020: The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee’s death on July 6 prompted a 197% increase in catalog streams the week ending July 9. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” his best-known song, reentered the July 9-dated Hot Country Songs chart at No. 24, with a 112% increase in streams to 2.55 million.
• CHADWICK BOSEMAN 1977-2020 The actor’s death on Aug. 28 led fans to stream the soundtrack to his best-known film, Black Panther. Streams for the 2018 soundtrack album’s songs went up 174% on Aug. 29 versus the four days prior.
• EDDIE VAN HALEN, 1955-2020: The death of the co-founder (and namesake) of the iconic rock band on Oct. 6 prompted a 6,198% increase in Van Halen’s album and song sales that same day, to 40,000 copies — compared with just under 1,000 on Oct. 5.
• JOHNNY NASH, 1940-2020: The “I Can See Clearly Now” singer saw a 323% rise in on-demand audio streams of his catalog reaching 606,000 streams in the 2 days following his death on Oct. 6, compared with 143,000 streams the 2 days prior.
• CHARLEY PRIDE, 1934-2020: The pioneering country star saw a 874% increase in audio streams and 4,352% lift in video streams of his catalog in the two days following his death on Dec. 12 (compared to the two days prior).
• K.T. OSLIN, 1942-2020: The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee’s passing on December 21 saw a 1,186% increase in streams of her catalog (to 814,000) in the three days following her death compared to the three days prior.
• R&B/HIP-HOP: Finishing 2020 as the most-consumed genre for the fourth consecutive year, hip-hop/rap was led by a number of new as well as posthumously released titles from some of the industry’s biggest names. Leading this year’s hip-hop/rap album charts was Lil Baby’s My Turn, which was also the most-consumed across all genres in 2020 with 2.6 million equivalent album units sold.
• COUNTRY: Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen spent much of 2020 breaking each other’s records for single-week streams and other major milestones in a banner year for country music consumption. Combs finished the year with the genre’s two most-consumed albums, including What You See Is What You Get (No. 1, with 1.5 million equivalent units), while Wallen’s album If I Know Me wrapped the year at No. 3 two years after its initial release. Female artists, who had been underrepresented in the top ranks of the country charts for years, finished 2020 strong with three of the year’s five most-consumed country songs and the top two most popular songs at country radio, led by Maren Morris’ “The Bones” and Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope” on both charts.
• LATIN: Perhaps no artist single-handedly contributed to a year of significant growth for Latin music than Bad Bunny, whose three 2020 album releases were the genre’s No. 1, 5 and 4 most-consumed albums of the year and contributed a combined 3.6 billion on-demand streams.
• R&B: The Weeknd ruled consumption across the board in R&B this year, as his album After Hours and single “Blinding Lights” were the most popular across all categories for the genre by a considerable margin.
• Dance/Electronic: Lady Gaga’s first fully dance/electronic album since 2013’s Artpop dominated the genre this year, helping set an optimistic tone for an eventual return to enjoying dance music in public. Gaga’s album Chromatica capped off a year that also saw highly anticipated new albums from DJ-producers Kygo and Disclosure rank among the genre’s top five most-consumed releases.
January 7, 2021 3:00pm ET by Pressparty