Post Malone's 'Hollywood's Bleeding' Is Nielsen Music/MRC Data's Top Album of 2019

Post Malone_AMAs - Getty - H 2019
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

Meanwhile, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" was last year's most-streamed song.

Post Malone closed out 2019 with the most popular album of the year in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. The data-tracking company reports that the genre-blending artist’s Hollywood’s Bleeding effort, his third release, earned 3.001 million equivalent album units during the year, with 357,000 of that sum coming from album sales.

2019 marks the fourth year in a row where Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s top album was by a male artist. In 2018, Drake's Scorpion was Nielsen Music’s biggest album, earning 3.91 million units. Ed Sheeran's ÷ (Divide) was tops in 2017 (with 2.76 million units), Drake’s Views led in 2016 (4.14 million units) and Adele's 25 ruled in 2015 (8.01 million units).

Hollywood’s Bleeding’s 3.001 million equivalent album units is a multi-metric consumption total, which includes album sales, on-demand audio streaming equivalent album units (SEA), and track equivalent album units (TEA). The multi-metric formula is also used to compile the weekly Billboard 200 albums chart, which ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. In 2019, one equivalent album unit equaled: one album sale; or one SEA unit (1,250 paid subscription or 3,750 ad-supported on-demand audio streams of tracks from an album), or one TEA unit (10 digital tracks sold from an album).

Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s 2019 tracking year ran from Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020. Due to a quirk in the calendar, there were 53 weeks in 2018, instead of the usual 52. So, for 2019 volume comparisons to 2018, a corresponding 52-week period is used by Nielsen Music for 2018: Jan. 5, 2018, through Jan. 3, 2019. (Historical references to volume in 2017 and earlier years used the traditional 52-week period as stated in earlier Billboard stories.)

Numbers in this story are rounded. Nielsen Music began electronically tracking sales and data in 1991 (so a reference in this story to the “Nielsen Music era” means from 1991 to the present). In December 2019, Nielsen Music was acquired by Valence Media, Billboard’s parent company as the anchor unit for the company’s newly established MRC Data division.

Hollywood’s Bleeding was a monster in terms of streaming activity in 2019, garnering 2.452 million in SEA units (which translates to 3.371 billion on-demand audio streams for the set’s songs in 2019). It was also by far the most-streamed album of the year in terms of total audio on-demand song streams, and the only set to cross 3 billion streams for its tracks in 2019.

Hollywood’s Bleeding notched Malone his second No. 1 on the weekly Billboard 200 chart, and has ruled the tally for five non-consecutive weeks. Malone previously logged a No. 1 on the chart with his second album, 2018’s beerbongs & bentleys.

Hollywood’s Bleeding contains five songs that hit the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart: “Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse),” a co-billed collaboration with Swae Lee (No. 1 for one week); “Wow.” (No. 2); “Goodbyes,” featuring Young Thug (No. 3); “Take What You Want,” featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott (No. 8); and “Circles” (No. 1 for three weeks).

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2019 IN U.S., BY TOTAL EQUIVALENT ALBUM UNITS

Rank

Artist, Title

Total Units

Album Sales

TEA Units

SEA Units

1

Post Malone, Hollywood's Bleeding

3,001,000

357,000

192,000

2,452,000

2

Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

2,518,000

676,000

123,000

1,719,000

3

Taylor Swift, Lover

2,191,000

1,085,000

103,000

1,003,000

4

Ariana Grande, Thank U, Next

2,056,000

279,000

96,000

1,681,000

5

Khalid, Free Spirit

1,587,000

226,000

74,000

1,287,000

6

Post Malone, beerbongs & bentleys

1,380,000

85,000

49,000

1,246,000

7

Lil Nas X, 7

1,306,000

12,000

169,000

1,125,000

8

Drake, Scorpion

1,249,000

51,000

27,000

1,171,000

9

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (Soundtrack)

1,213,000

486,000

152,000

575,000

10

Travis Scott, Astroworld

1,201,000

54,000

30,000

1,117,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020

Malone lands two albums in the year-end top 10 albums tally, as beerbongs & bentleys ranks at No. 6 with 1.38 million units. A year ago, he also had two albums in the year-end top 10 roundup, as beerbongs placed at No. 2, while his debut studio effort Stoney was No. 10.

Also in the 2019 year-end top five: Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (No. 2, 2.518 million units), Taylor Swift’s Lover (No. 3, 2.191 million), Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next (No. 4, 2.056 million) and Khalid’s Free Spirit (No. 5, 1.587 million).

ALBUM EQUIVALENT AUDIO CONSUMPTION CLIMBS 11.4 PERCENT: Album equivalent audio consumption in 2019 increased 11.4 percent, rising to 677.97 million units (up from 618.04 million). Those figures blend album sales, TEA units and SEA units from on-demand audio streams.

R&B/HIP-HOP IS KING: R&B/hip-hop music continued to dominate all other genres in terms of consumption, as it did in 2018. In 2019, the genre represented 27.4 percent of album equivalent audio consumption — the largest of any genre. In second place for 2019 was rock music, with 21.3 percent of the market.

LOVER RULES IN SALES: Swift’s Lover was the top-selling album of 2019, with 1.09 million copies sold. It also marks the only album to sell a million copies during the year. In 2018, there was also just one album to surpass the million sales mark: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (with 1.49 million). 2019 marks just the second year in the Nielsen Music era where there was only one album that sold 1 million copies. It only previous happened in 2018, with The Greatest Showman.

In 2019, just two albums sold at least 500,000 copies: Lover and Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep (676,000). In 2018, there were also just two half-million sellers (Showman and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born soundtrack, with 704,000).

Swift has now earned the top-selling album of the year four times. In addition to Lover in 2019, she also finished with the best-seller in 2017 (reputation, 1.9 million), 2014 (1989, 3.66 million) and 2009 (Fearless, 3.22 million).

TOP 10 SELLING ALBUMS OF 2019 IN U.S.

Rank

Artist, Title

Sales

1

Taylor Swift, Lover

1,085,000

2

Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

676,000

3

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (Soundtrack)

486,000

4

Jonas Brothers, Happiness Begins

469,000

5

Harry Styles, Fine Line

458,000

6

BTS, Map of the Soul: Persona

454,000

7

Tool, Fear Inoculum

388,000

8

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (Soundtrack)

366,000

9

Post Malone, Hollywood's Bleeding

357,000

10

The Beatles, Abbey Road

333,000

Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020.

ALBUM SALES DROP 18.7 PERCENT: Overall album sales, across all formats (CD, digital album, vinyl LP, cassettes, etc.) fell by 18.7 percent to 112.75 million copies. It’s the fourth year in a row where album sales fell by at least 10 percent. Album sales dropped 17.7 percent in 2018, 17.7 percent in 2017, 16.7 percent in 2016, 6 percent in 2015 and 11 percent in 2014. Album sales last posted a yearly gain in 2011, when volume was up by 1.3 percent.

Physical album sales (CD, vinyl, cassette, etc.) in 2019 decreased by 15 percent to 73.5 million. CD album sales comprised 54.19 million of that sum (down 22.1 percent). The CD format is still the leading format for album purchases, while the digital format is in second-place with 39.3 million digital albums sold in 2019 (down 24.9 percent).

Swift’s Lover was the top-selling physical album (699,000) and the top-selling digital format album (386,000).

Lover was also the top-selling album on the CD format (647,000). The top-selling vinyl LP was The Beatles’ Abbey Road (246,000).

VINYL VICTORY: For the 14th consecutive year, vinyl album sales grew to a new yearly high, climbing to 18.84 million sold in 2019 (up 14.5 percent).

Impressively, vinyl LP sales represented 16.7 percent of all album sales in 2019. In 2018, the format accounted for 11.9 percent of all album sales.

Further, vinyl LPs comprised over a quarter of all physical album sales (CD, vinyl LP, cassettes, etc.) in 2019 — 25.6 percent. That’s a new Nielsen Music-era record share for the format, up from 19.1 percent in 2018.

Overall, there were 23 albums that sold at least 50,000 copies on vinyl in 2019 — up from 14 titles in 2018 and eight titles in 2017.

In the Nielsen Music era, of the top 10 biggest-selling weeks for vinyl albums in total, five of them occurred in 2019. Further, the top two biggest vinyl weeks came this past December: 973,000 sold in the week ending Dec. 19, and 1.24 million sold in the week ending Dec. 26.

TOP 10 SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2019 IN U.S.

Rank

Artist, Title

Sales

1

The Beatles, Abbey Road

246,000

2

Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

176,000

3

Queen, Greatest Hits

139,000

4

Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1

123,000

5

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (Soundtrack)

108,000

6

Beach Boys, Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of…

107,000

7

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon

92,000

8

Michael Jackson, Thriller

88,000

9

Bob Marley and The Wailers, Legend: The Best of…

84,000

10

Fleetwood Mac, Rumours

78,000

 

Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020.

"OLD TOWN," RECORD STREAMS: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” easily gallops away as the most-streamed song of 2019, with a stunning 2.5 billion on-demand streams (audio and video combined). The track, which was originally released as a solo effort by Lil Nas X, was greatly enhanced by a later-issued remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. All versions of the song (including other alternative versions with RM of BTS, Young Thug and Mason Ramsey, and a Diplo-helmed remix) are combined into the 2.5 billion figure.

“Old Town Road” also makes history as the first song to exceed more than 2 billion on-demand streams in a calendar year. Previously, the most-streamed tune of any calendar year was Drake’s “God’s Plan,” with 1.566 billion streams tallied in 2018.

“Old Town Road” was also 2019’s most-streamed in terms of audio-only on-demand streams (1.002 billion) and video-only on-demand streams (1.498 billion).

Overall on-demand streams (audio and video combined) grew by 29.3 percent in 2019, surpassing the 1 trillion mark for the first time in a calendar year. In total for 2019, there were 1.147 trillion on-demand streams registered. Of that sum, 745.75 billion were in on-demand audio streams (up 23.8%) and 401.23 billion were in on-demand video streams (up 40.7 percent).

The R&B/hip-hop genre continued to hold the largest share in terms of on-demand streams, as compared to all other genres. R&B/hip-hop streams accounted for 30.7 percent of all on-demand streams in 2019 — up from 29.7 percent in 2018. The second-largest genres in 2019 were rock and pop, each with a 14.7 percent slice of the on-demand streaming market.

TOP 10 MOST STREAMED SONGS OF 2019 IN U.S., ON-DEMAND AUDIO & VIDEO COMBINED

Rank

Artist, Title

Streams

1

Lil Nas X, "Old Town Road"

2,499,608,000

2

Post Malone & Swae Lee, "Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)"

1,474,828,000

3

Billie Eilish, "Bad Guy"

1,294,072,000

4

Ariana Grande, "7 Rings"

1,129,767,000

5

Pinkfong, "Baby Shark"

980,514,000

6

Travis Scott, "Sicko Mode"

962,144,000

7

Lil Tecca, "Ran$om"

959,093,000

8

Halsey, "Without Me"

939,993,000

9

Post Malone, "Wow."

918,382,000

10

J. Cole, "Middle Child"

859,521,000

Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020.

TOP 10 ON-DEMAND STREAMS OF 2019 IN U.S., AUDIO-ONLY

Rank

Artist, Title

Streams

1

Lil Nas X, "Old Town Road"

1,001,658,000

2

Post Malone & Swae Lee, "Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse")

800,726,000

3

Post Malone, "Wow."

644,384,000

4

Billie Eilish, "Bad Guy"

595,891,000

5

J. Cole, "Middle Child"

578,272,000

6

Ariana Grande, "7 Rings"

575,880,000

7

Lil Tecca, "Ran$om"

536,291,000

8

Lizzo, "Truth Hurts"

511,930,000

9

Meek Mill featuring Drake, "Going Bad"

495,391,000

10

Halsey, "Without Me"

478,006,000

Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020.

TOP 10 ON-DEMAND STREAMS OF 2019 IN U.S., VIDEO-ONLY

Rank

Artist, Title

Streams

1

Lil Nas X, "Old Town Road"

1,497,950,000

2

Pinkfong, "Baby Shark"

783,943,000

3

Billie Eilish, "Bad Guy"

698,181,000

4

Post Malone & Swae Lee, "Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)"

674,102,000

5

Ariana Grande, "7 Rings"

553,887,000

6

Travis Scott, "Sicko Mode"

532,728,000

7

Marshmello & Bastille, "Happier"

498,511,000

8

Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg, "The Next Episode"

484,782,000

9

Halsey, "Without Me"

461,987,000

10

Blueface, "Thotiana"

442,395,000

Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020.

DIGITAL DIP: For the seventh year in a row, overall digital song sales fell. In 2019, there was a total of 301.08 million digital songs sold — a decline of 25 percent as compared to 2018. From 2004 through 2012, digital song sales grew yearly. The biggest year for the format was in 2012, when 1.336 billion songs were sold.

The top-selling digital song of 2019 was Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” with 1.536 million downloads sold. It was the only tune to surpass 1 million in download sales. A year ago, there were three million-sellers.

TOP 10 SELLING DIGITAL SONGS OF 2019 IN U.S.

Rank

Artist, Title

Sales

1

Lil Nas X, "Old Town Road"

1,536,000

2

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, "Shallow"

832,000

3

Lizzo, "Truth Hurts"

686,000

4

Post Malone & Swae Lee, "Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)"

668,000

5

Billie Eilish, "Bad Guy"

577,000

6

Blake Shelton, "God's Country"

513,000

7

Jonas Brothers, "Sucker"

511,000

8

Lewis Capaldi, "Someone You Loved"

501,000

9

Ariana Grande, "7 Rings"

476,000

10

Halsey, "Without Me"

471,000

Source: Nielsen Music/MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 4, 2019, through Jan. 2, 2020.

This story was originally published on Billboard.com.