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Nielsen Report: Adele, vinyl sales dominate, as album sales decline in 2015

By: Lucy Sky –

Adele's new album, 25, is the fastest-selling album of the 21st century and the best-selling album of 2015.

Adele’s new album, 25, is the fastest-selling album of the 21st century and the best-selling album of 2015.

Adele, and vinyl dominated 2015 music sales, while album sales declined, according to Nielsen’s annual year-end report.

Adele’s 25 obliterated the first week Nielsen SoundScan record that NSync’s No Strings Attached album previously held (2.416 million sales,) with a ground-breaking 3.377 million units sold during release week. It also accounted for over 41 percent of total industry album sales in that week alone. 21 made a comeback, re-entering the Billboard 200 chart’s top 10 for the first time in three years and rising to the 10th best-selling album in SoundScan history, with over 11.4 million sales. Altogether, Adele’s three albums (18, 21 and 25) sold eight million copies in 2015 alone.

Having monitored streaming, airplay, and sales, Nielsen said they were “thrilled to report on every new milestone she achieved” and that it was incredible by any measuring stick. Them going as far to call 2015 “The year of Adele,” isn’t surprising with 3.38 million record-setting sales in 25’s first week of release. She beat the rating records on SNL, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, and not to mention, her live show in New York on NBC was the highest rated TV concert special in over 10 years.

Vinyl is on the rise once again, with LP sales hitting new all-time highs. In 2015, there were nearly 12 million records sold. That marks 10 straight years of increased vinyl sales and tops last year’s record volume by 2.8 million units.

Rock albums amounted to over 68 percent of vinyl sales, nearly 33 percent of all album sales and rock remains the number one genre for overall album sales. Although rock prevailed, total album sales decreased from last year by 6.1 percent. CD sales decreased by 10.8 percent, digital by 2.9 percent, but LP/Vinyl increased by a whopping 29.8 percent. Total digital music consumption also increased by 26.0 percent.

Non-traditional outlets were most popular this year for album sales, increasing by 6.2 percent, while chains, mass merchant and even independent retailers all decreased. On demand music streams skyrocketed, total streams increased by 92.8 percent, audio by 83.1 percent, and video by 101.9 percent.

Beating the odds as well, is Radio. While for an immeasurable amount of time, people have been saying that radio is on its way out, it’s still the number one source for how music is discovered. 93 per cent of adult consumers use radio each week, more than TV (87 percent), smartphones (71 percent), PCs (54 percent), TV-connected devices (40 percent) and tablets (29 percent).

According to Nielsen’s N-Score, (measuring fans’ perception of top talent in music, sports, books, film and TV across 10 attributes including “Awareness,” “Likeability,” “Influential” and “Trendsetter,”) the top 10 artists among millennials (18-35) in 2015 were, from 1-10; Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Adele, Beyonce, Pink, The Beatles, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, and Usher. However, the top 10 artists based on social/web engagement and total RTD activity, from 1-10 were; Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Shakira, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Selena Gomez, Adele, and Justin Timberlake.

When it comes to how we spend our money on music, it differs a bit between age groups. About a third of spending is put towards live events. Teens spend on digital tracks and albums, while Millennials spend on festivals. Albeit, with streaming in such high demand, the top three deciding factors in selecting streaming services were cost, ease of use and song library. Whereas the top three reasons people were not likely to subscribe were that the services were too expensive, that people could stream for free and not thinking they’ll use the service enough. Nielsen also found that in the next six months, people are 78 percent somewhat/very unlikely, 13 percent neither likely nor unlikely and 9 percent very/somewhat unlikely to pay for streaming services.

A significant amount of our time is spent listening to music. The average American dedicates 24 hours a week to music, 91 percent listen to music, 75 percent listen online and 44 percent listen on a smartphone in a typical week.

Below are some of the report’s rankings.

Top 10 Selling Albums of 2015 in U.S. (in physical copies)

1. Adele, “25,” 7,441,000
2. Taylor Swift, “1989,” 1,993,000
3. Justin Bieber, “Purpose,” 1,269,000
4. Ed Sheeran, “X,” 1,162,000
5. Drake, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” 1,142,000
6. Sam Smith, “In the Lonely Hour,” 1,018,000
7. Meghan Trainor, “Title,” 1,007,000
8. The Weeknd, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” 862,000
9. Soundtrack, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” 861,000
10. Luke Bryan, “Kill the Lights,” 851,000

Top 10 Selling Digital Songs of 2015 in U.S.

1. Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk!,” 5,529,000
2. Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud, “3,976,000
3. Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, “See You Again,” 3,801,000
4. Adele, “Hello,” 3,712,000
5. Maroon 5, “Sugar,” 3,343,000
6. Walk the Moon, “Shut Up and Dance,” 2,986,000
7. Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen,” 2,730,000
8. OMI, “Cheerleader,” 2,698,000
9. The Weekend, “The Hills,” 2,586,000
10. Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood,” 2,580,000

Top On-Demand Streams of 2015 in U.S. (audio and video streams combined)

1. Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen,” 616,463,000
2. Silento, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” 563,406,000
3. Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk!,” 555,808,000
4. Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again,” 472,264
5. The Weeknd, “The Hills,” 444,018,000
6. Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud,” 350,579,000
7. Adele, “Hello,” 335,799,000
8. Omi, “Cheerleader,” 328,365,000
9. Fetty Wap feat. Remy Boyz, “679,” 322,176,000
10. The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face,” 314,499,000

Top LP Vinyl Albums of 2015 in U.S. (in physical copies)

1. Adele, “25,” 116,000
2. Taylor Swift, “1989,” 74,000
3. Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon,” 50,000
4. The Beatles, “Abbey Road,” 49,800
5. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue,” 49,000
6. Arctic Monkeys, “AM,” 48,000
7. Sufjan Stevens, “Carrie & Lowell,” 44,900
8. Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color,” 44,600
9. Hozier, “Hozier,” 43,000
10. Soundtrack, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” 43,000

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