Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' & Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You' Lead Nielsen Music's Mid-Year 2017 Charts

Plus: Vinyl album sales continue to grow, on-demand streams are up 36% and soundtracks are red-hot.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) lead Nielsen Music’s 2017 mid-year album charts, while Sheeran’s “Shape of You” dominates the mid-year song lists. (See charts, below.)

For the tracking period of Dec. 30, 2016 through June 29, 2017, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. dominates as the most popular album in the country, having earned 1.77 million equivalent album units. (Equivalent album units are comprised of traditional album sales, track equivalent albums [TEA] and streaming equivalent albums [SEA]. Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from one album, or 1,500 on-demand audio streams generated by songs on an album.)

DAMN. marked Lamar’s third No. 1 album on the weekly Billboard 200, following its release on April 14. It bowed with the largest week of the year for an album on the chart: 603,000 units earned.

In terms of traditional album sales, Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) is tops, with 742,000 copies sold so far in 2017. It’s ahead of the No. 2 seller, DAMN., with 678,000. Those are the only two albums to have sold at least a half-million copies in 2017. Comparably, in the first half of 2016, the industry saw five albums sell more than 500,000 – including a trio that moved in excess of a million (Adele’s 25, Drake’s Views and Beyoncé’s Lemonade).

A whopping four soundtracks are among the top 10 sellers of 2017, so far, with Moana, Trolls, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Beauty and the Beast ranking at Nos. 4, 7, 8 and 10, respectively. A year ago, the highest-ranking soundtrack on the mid-year tally (and the only one in the top 50) was Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain at No. 9. (Soundtrack album sales are up 51 percent in 2017 as compared to the first half of 2016: 5.10 million sold versus 3.37 million.)

Overall album sales are down 18 percent in 2017 compared to the mid-year point in 2016 (81.97 million versus 100.28 million). CD album sales declined 19 percent (40.34 million versus 50 million) and digital album sales fell 20 percent (35.09 million versus 43.80 million). Vinyl album sales, however, were up 2 percent (6.36 million versus 6.22 million). 

The top-selling album on CD during the first half of 2017 was Metallica’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, with 386,000 sold in the format. The album’s sales were boosted by a concert ticket/album bundle sale redemption promotion with the band’s stadium tour. The top-selling digital album in the first six months of the year was Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. (475,000), while the top-selling on vinyl LP was The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (39,000) thanks in part to its deluxe 50th anniversary reissue.

In terms of total on-demand audio and video streams, the sector grew 36.4 percent in the first half of 2017 – rising to 284.7 billion (up from 208.7 billion at mid-year in 2016). Of the 2017 sum, on-demand audio streams comprised 184.3 billion – up 62.4 percent compared to 113.5 billion at the mid-year point in 2015. On-demand video streams totaled 100.3 billion so far in 2017 – up 5.4 percent versus the 95.2 billion in the first half of 2016.

As for Nielsen’s biggest song of 2017 at the mid-year point, Ed Sheeran is tops, as his “Shape of You” is both the most streamed song and the top-selling digital song. It earned 689.8 million on-demand streams (audio and video combined), and was the most streamed audio-only track (354.2 million) and video (335.5 million). “Shape” was also the best-selling digital song, shifting 2.17 million downloads.

In total, audio consumption (as measured by combining album sales, TEA and on-demand audio SEA) grew 8.9 percent in the first six months of 2017 when compared to the first half of 2016 (235.5 million units versus 216.3 million units).

Nielsen Music's Mid-Year 2017 Charts:

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 Albums (Based on Overall Equivalent Album Units)
1. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN. (1,772,000)
2. Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide) (1,749,000)
3. Drake, More Life (1,693,000)
4. Bruno Mars, 24K Magic (1,110,000)
5. Migos, Culture (1,002,000)
6. The Weeknd, Starboy (981,000)
7. Soundtrack, Moana (819,000)
8. Future, Future (760,000)
9. The Chainsmokers, Memories… Do Not Open (760,000)
10. Post Malone, Stoney (711,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 Selling Albums
1. Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide) (743,000)
2. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN. (678,000)
3. Bruno Mars, 24K Magic (494,000)
4. Soundtrack, Moana (494,000)
5. Metallica, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (487,000)
6. Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Volume 1 (419,000)
7. Soundtrack, Trolls (373,000)
8. Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (351,000)
9. Drake, More Life (343,000)
10. Soundtrack, Beauty and the Beast (337,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 Selling Vinyl Albums
1. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (39,000)
2. Soundtrack, La La Land (33,000)
3. Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (30,000)
4. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend (30,000)
5. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (27,000)
6. Ed Sheeran ÷ (Divide) (27,000)
7. The Beatles, Abbey Road (26,000)
8. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (24,000)
9. Tennis, Yours Conditionally (24,000)
10. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (23,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 Selling Digital Songs
1. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (2,170,000)
2. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito” (1,437,000)
3. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (1,377,000)
4. Sam Hunt, “Body Like a Back Road” (1,246,000)
5. Zayn / Taylor Swift, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” (1,048,000)
6. The Chainsmokers & Coldplay, “Something Just Like This” (988,000)
7. James Arthur, “Say You Won’t Let Go” (914,000)
8. Imagine Dragons, “Believer” (905,000)
9. Julia Michaels, “Issues” (889,000)
10. Bruno Mars, “24K Magic” (769,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 On-Demand Song Streams (Audio and Video Combined)
1. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (689,756,000)
2. Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee” (648,129,000)
3. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito” (624,375,000)
4. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (522,071,000)
5. Kendrick Lamar, “Humble.” (519,887,000)
6. Future, “Mask Off” (505,473,000)
7. Kyle featuring Lil Yachty, “Ispy” (494,113,000)
8. Post Malone featuring Quavo, “Congratulations” (483,252,000)
9. Lil Uzi Vert, “XO TOUR Llif3” (474,220,000)
10. Kodak Black, “Tunnel Vision” (388,186,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 On-Demand Audio Streams
1. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (354,245,000)
2. Kendrick Lamar, “Humble.” (345,980,000)
3. Future, “Mask Off” (327,281,000)
4. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito” (316,581,000)
5. Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee” (313,596,000)
6. Lil Uzi Vert, “XO TOUR Llif3” (277,610,000)
7. Post Malone featuring Quavo, “Congratulations” (273,964,000)
8. Kyle featuring Lil Yachty, “iSpy” (271,738,000)
9. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (261,115,000)
10. Big Sean, “Bounce Back” (230,278,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 On-Demand Video Streams
1. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (335,511,000)
2. Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee” (334,533,000)
3. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito” (397,795,000)
4. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (260,956,000)
5. Kyle featuring Lil Yachty, “iSpy” (222,376,000)
6. Post Malone featuring Quavo, “Congratulations” (209,288,000)
7. Ayo & Teo, “Rolex” (199,244,000)
8. Lil Uzi Vert, “XO TOUR Llif3” (196,611,000)
9. Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall, “Juju On That Beat (TZ Anthem)” (196,524,000)
10. Rae Sremmurd, “Swang” (188,790,000)

Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period of Dec. 30, 2016 – June 29, 2017.