The Weeknd Tops Nielsen Music/MRC Data Midyear Charts Across Canada

The Weeknd
Duncan Loudon

Data suggests the COVID-19 pandemic halted momentum of audio streaming across several genres, with alternative rock taking a big hit.

TORONTO — For the first half of 2020, R&B superstar The Weeknd dominated multiple Nielsen Music Canada charts, including physical albums, total consumption album sales, Canadian albums, Canadian radio, and, overall, the most consumed of all Canadian artists, according to the just-released midyear report from Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

The Toronto native's latest album, After Hours, came in at 163,000 total album equivalent consumption (album + TEA + on-demand SEA), putting him above Changes by fellow Canadian Justin Bieber (127k) and Eminem’s Music to Be Murdered By (125k), with Post Malone’s Hollywood Bleeding (108k) and Roddy Ricch’s Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial (100k) rounding out the top 5.

If you were to fill the top 5 with just Canadian artists, Drake would land at Nos. 3 and 4, with Dark Lane Demo Tapes (69k) and Scorpion (41k) in the mix. The No. 5 biggest album by a Canadian artist was Yer Favorites by The Tragically Hip (40k), disbanded since the death of frontman Gord Downie in 2017.

The top 10 Canadian artists by airplay were The Weeknd at No. 1, followed by Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes, Virginia To Vegas, Bieber, Dallas Smith, Drake, Chad Brownlee, Brett Kissel, and JP Saxe (who had his first smash with "If The World Was Ending" with girlfriend Julia Michaels).

The Weeknd’s "Blinding Lights" has been the year’s top Canadian song overall, with 484,000 stream-equivalent songs on-demand, followed by Bieber’s “Intentions” (302k), Drake’s “Toosie Slide” (259k), Bieber’s “Yummy” (231k) and Saxe and Michaels' "If the World Was Ending" (224k).

The report, which covers the 26-week period from Jan. 3 to July 2 and includes U.S. and global data, contains its usual breakdown by genre (from R&B/hip hop to rock, children's and classical), sales, streaming, radio, and for the first time "the unquestionable influence of TikTok." It also breaks down streaming habits by genre for the first six months of the year, divided into pre and post COVID-19, selected as March 13.

The last-minute cancellation of the 49th annual Juno Awards (the country's Grammys) in mid-March marked the beginning in Canada of a lockdown that devastated the live music industry, as it has everywhere else, but the mid-year report shows that music still played a significant role in the lives of Canadians stuck at home.

[Note: The term "total album-equivalent consumption" describes the number of physical and digital albums that were sold and the total number of album-equivalent songs from downloads and song streaming volume. For the sake of clarity, the definition of total album-equivalent consumption does not include listening to music on broadcast radio or digital radio broadcasts. Unless otherwise noted, all numbers are volume.]

By genre, Billie Eilish led pop artists with 183K (album + TEA + on-demand SEA); Bieber's Changes was the top album, Tones and I's "Dance Monkey" the No. 1 song (w/SES on-demand), and Duo Lipa's "Don't Start Now" reigned radio (airplay spins).

The Beatles sat atop the rock artists (93K), Elton John's Diamond's the rock albums, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" top songs, and The Strumbella's "Salvation" radio play.

In the R&B/hip hop category, Eminem led the artists list (269K), The Weeknd albums, Roddy Ricch's "The Box" top songs, and The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" got the most spins.

For country, Luke Combs came in at No. 1 for artists (109K) and again for top albums (No. 1 and 2) with 2019's What You See Is What You Get and 2017's This One's For You, while Dan + Shay & Bieber led songs with "10,000 Hours," and Carly Pierce & Lee Bruce dominated radio with "I Hope You're Happy Now."

Compared to last year, an analysis of audio streams broke down the period into pre and post COVID-19, determining the industry total was up 21.3 percent through to March 12, but only up 14 percent for the period of March 13 to July 2, for a year-to-date total increase of 16.7 percent. By genre, compared to 2019, hard rock, R&B/hip hop and country were all up during the first three months of the year — 29.9 percent, 6.5 percent and 24.1 percent respectively — and decreased only negligible amounts post-COVID. Alt-rock, however, took a significant dive: it was up 22.3 percent until March 12, but only 2.5 percent for the months after the pandemic.

Nielsen Music/MRC Data's Midyear 2020 Charts:

Top 10 Albums (Based on Overall Equivalent Album Units)
1. The Weeknd, After Hours (163,000)
2. Justin Bieber, Changes (127,000)
3. Eminem, Music To Be Murdered By (125,000)
4. Post Malone, Hollywood’s Bleeding (108,000)
5. Roddy Ricch, Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial (100,000)
6. Lil Uzi Vert, Eternal Atake (97,000)
7. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (91,000)
8. Lewis Capaldi, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent (84,000)
9. Harry Styles, Fine Line (84,000)
10. Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (73,000)

Top 10 On-Demand Song Streams (Audio & Video Combined)
1. Roddy Ricch, “The Box” (82.834 million)
2. Tones And I, “Dance Monkey” (74.941 million)
3. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (63.4 million)
4. Future Ft. Drake, “Life Is Good” (60.32 million)
5. Saint Jhn, “Roses” (54.612 million)
6. Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now” (49.793 million)
7. Eminem Ft. Juice Wrld, “Godzilla” (46.83 million)
8. Arizona Zervas, “Roxanne” (41.89 million)
9. Post Malone, “Circles” (41.523 million)
10. Justin Bieber Ft. Quavo, “Intentions” (41.463 million)

Top 10 Canadian Artists By Airplay
1. The Weeknd, 140,000 spins
2. Alessia Cara , 77,000
3. Shawn Mendes, 67,000
4. Virginia To Vegas, 64,000
5. Justin Bieber, 64,000
6. Dallas Smith, 63,000
7. Drake, 61,000
8. Chad Brownlee, 42,000
9. Brett Kissel, 42,000
10. Jp Saxe, 39,000

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