Led by Olivia Rodrigo, Recorded Music Having a Surge in 2021

Tuesday, Jul 13, 2021

Any lingering impact that COVID-19 had on American life did nothing to slow music’s six-year growth streak, as MRC Data’s 2021 Mid-Year Report shows overall music consumption for the first six months up 13.5% over the same stretch of 2020. That gain outpaces the 11.6% year-over-year growth that the U.S. music market clocked in all 12 months of 2020.

The mid-year report card also finds actress-turned-singer Olivia Rodrigo joining the winners’ circle, Swift continuing to thrive, and the once-novel comeback by the vinyl LP is on its way to a 16th straight year of annual growth, all as streaming continues to rule the roost. On-demand audio and video song streams are up by 10.8% in the U.S. over the first half of 2020, and up 27.5% on a global basis. (The full MRC Data report can be downloaded here.)

While Swift remains vital, the queen of the charts thus far in 2021 is 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo, who graduated from Disney Channel star to pop sensation in January when her “Drivers License” single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1.

She went on to earn the distinction of seeing all 11 songs from debut album “Sour” enter the Hot 100 in the same frame the collection racked up 295,000 equivalent units in its first week — the biggest seven-day total of 2021 and the biggest week for a debut album since Billboard began factoring song sales and streams into its album charts in December 2014, besting a mark that Cardi B set in 2018.

Although the album has only been out since May 21, it stands as the second most consumed set of 2021, as streams from her first two singles help her compile a six-month total of almost 1.4 million overall units. She and Wallen are the only acts to top 1 million equivalent units in the first half of 2021, although Justin’s Bieber’s “Justice” (962,000) and “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon” by the late Pop Smoke (948,000) come close. Five albums racked up a million or more equivalent units in the first half of 2020, when Lil Baby’s “My Turn” topped all with 1.47 million.

Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” is the undisputed champ on MRC’s Mid-Year Top Digital Song Consumption list (sales plus equivalent value from streams) with 3.92 million units, runner-up “Levitating” by Dua Lipa with DaBaby at 3.2 million. The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears” fell just shy of 3 million with 2.93 million, while each of the remaining top 10 songs each surpassed 2 million.

Pop, led by Rodrigo, owns half of the top 10 albums in the first half of 2021, compared to just three a year ago, with Lipa, Swift and Ariana Grande joining Rodrigo and Bieber in this half-year’s winner’s circle. Country, shut out of the top 10 albums in 2020’s first half, owns two slots in the latest report, with Luke Combs — the genre’s lone top 10 album in the 2020 year-end recap — joining Wallen. The Weeknd is R&B’s sole representative in the mid-year top 10, as he was a year ago.

Aside from the four hip-hop songs, the mid-year top 10 includes three pop tunes (Rodrigo, Lipa and Bieber’s “Peaches,” featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon) and three R&B entries (SZA’s “Good Days” joining the two Weeknd songs).

“Olivia Rodrigo is just rewriting the rules,” says the aforementioned label exec. “She’d be an outlier in most years. Dua Lipa has been one of the most amazing artist development stories over the past three years. The genres of the top 10 songs are more diverse than we’ve seen, and that’s good.”

SOURCE: Full article available at Variety

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