Until now, all recipients have hailed from North America (Taylor Swift in 2014 and 2019, Drake in 2016 and 2018) or the United Kingdom (One Direction in 2013, Adele in 2015, Ed Sheeran in 2017).
BTS came close to winning the trade body's top award in 2018, when they finished second, and again in 2019, coming in seventh.
Despite the pandemic, the pop septet slotted into record-setting form last year.
In April 2020, the group bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with Map of the Soul: 7, their fourth No. 1 in less than two years.
Map of the Soul: 7 is one of the most pre-ordered albums of all time, notes the IFPI, and the album ruled the charts in more than 20 countries.
That was just the start of a monster year for BTS. The Japanese-language Map of the Soul : 7 ~ The Journey ~ bolted past 500,000 copies within two days of its release in July 2020. Later, RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook became the first Korean act to score a Billboard Hot 100 leader as “Dynamite” hit the summit, and busted records for opening-day streams on YouTube and Spotify. "Dynamite" earned a historic Grammy nomination, for best pop duo/group performance.
Before the year closed out, Be stormed the global charts, and gave the group their fifth No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
“BTS are a global phenomenon,” comments IFPI CEO Frances Moore. “They have had another outstanding year, releasing three albums, and continually finding creative and engaging ways to share their story with the world. They truly show the power that music has to bring joy and happiness to people the world over.”
BTS lead a Top 10 loaded with U.S. and Canadian acts and, surprisingly, devoid of Brits. The Top Five is rounded out by Taylor Swift, Drake, The Weeknd and Billie Eilish, respectively.
IFPI Top 10 Global Recording Artists of 2020
2. Taylor Swift
4. The Weeknd
5. Billie Eilish
7. Post Malone
8. Ariana Grande
9. Juice Wrld
10. Justin Bieber