Lil Baby’s ‘My Turn’ Is MRC Data’s Top Album of 2020, Roddy Ricch’s ‘The Box’ Most-Streamed Song

Plus: U.S. album equivalent audio music consumption grew 12%; Taylor Swift’s 'Folklore' is the only million-selling album of 2020; on-demand audio song streams jumped 17%; and vinyl album sales notch 15th straight year of growth.

Lil Baby’s My Turn finishes 2020 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S., according to MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music). The company reports that the hip-hop star’s second studio effort earned 2.63 million equivalent album units during the year (*see explanation at end of this story), mostly driven by streaming activity of its songs.

See the year’s top 10 albums chart below.

2020 is the third straight year that the top album is an R&B/hip-hop effort, following Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding (2019, 3 million units) and Drake’s Scorpion (2018, 3.91 million units).

MRC Data’s 2020 tracking year ran from Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Equivalent album units — for album titles and chart rankings cited below — comprise traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album, or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album. 2020 was the first year on-demand video streams factored into album title totals and chart rankings. 

For the sake of clarity, equivalent album units do not include listening to music on broadcast radio or digital radio broadcasts. All numbers cited in this story are rounded, and for the U.S. only.

My Turn was also the most-streamed album of 2020, in terms of total streams generated by its songs and by SEA units earned. The set’s tunes collected 3.93 billion streams during the year (equating to a whopping 2.59 million SEA units of the set’s total 2.63 million units). While My Turn sizzled on streaming services, it sold just 40,000 in traditional album sales. It’s one of three titles among the year’s top 10 most popular albums that sold less than 100,000 copies in 2020, and all of them are rap efforts.

My Turn was released on Feb. 28 and debuted at No. 1 on the weekly Billboard 200 chart dated March 14, granting the rapper his first leader. It logged five nonconsecutive weeks atop the list, the second-most for an album during the year. (Taylor Swift’s Folklore had the most, with eight weeks at No. 1 in 2020.)

My Turn spun off two top 10 hit singles on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart (which blends streaming, sales and airplay data): “We Paid,” with 42 Dugg (No. 10 peak on the chart dated July 11) and “The Bigger Picture” (No. 3, June 27). The two tracks were among the six tunes added to the album’s deluxe edition that bowed on May 1.

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2020 IN U.S., BY TOTAL EQUIVALENT ALBUM UNITS*
1. Lil Baby, My Turn (2.632 million)
2. Taylor Swift, Folklore (2.204 million)
3. Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (2.198 million)
4. The Weeknd, After Hours (2.032 million)
5. Juice Wrld, Legends Never Die (1.990 million)
6. Post Malone, Hollywood’s Bleeding (1.895 million)
7. Lil Uzi Vert, Eternal Atake (1.860 million)
8. Roddy Ricch, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial (1.792 million)
9. Harry Styles, Fine Line (1.522 million)
10. Luke Combs, What You See Is What You Get (1.475 million)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Only three of the year’s top 10 albums are not R&B/hip-hop efforts: Taylor Swift’s surprise release Folklore (No. 2), Harry StylesFine Line (No. 9) and Luke CombsWhat You See Is What You Get (No. 10).

Folklore (released on July 24) is the highest-charting year-end album by a woman since 2016, when Adele’s 25 ranked at No. 2. (A year earlier, 25 was No. 1.) However, Swift is also the lone female artist in the year-end top 10 -- down from the four leading ladies in the top 10 in 2019 (including Lady Gaga’s co-billed credit with Bradley Cooper on the A Star Is Born soundtrack). In 2018, there was also just one album by a woman in the year-end top 10: Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy.

ALBUM EQUIVALENT AUDIO CONSUMPTION INCREASES 11.6%: Audio equivalent album units (** see explanation below) rose 11.6 in 2020%, to 756.8 million (up from 678.1 million in 2019). (Audio equivalent album units do not include video streams. Note: Due to reporting methodology changes from a major video provider, year over year video streaming comparisons are not reflective of industry trends and therefore not included in this story.)

R&B/HIP-HOP STILL KING: Overall equivalent album units for the R&B/hip-hop genre (including video streams) totaled 225.24 million for 2020 -- a leading 28.2% of total volume across all genres (798.53 million), the largest share of any genre. The next-largest genre is rock, with 19.5% of volume -- 155.74 million of 798.53 million.

The R&B/hip-hop genre represented 31.1% of all on-demand song streams in 2020 (318.72 billion of 1.02 trillion) -- the largest share of any genre. Rock is runner-up among genres in terms of on-demand streams (audio and video combined), with 15.6% of the market (159.4 billion of 1.02 trillion).

SWIFT’S STRONG SALES: Folklore also finishes the year as the top-selling album, and the only album to sell a million copies in 2020. For the second year in a row, just one album sold a million copies in the U.S. and in both years, it was a Swift album. In 2019, her Lover set was tops, with 1.09 million sold.

In total, Swift has claimed the top-selling album of the year five times -- the only act to do so since MRC Data’s first full year of tracking in 1992. She also had the No. 1 seller in 2017 (Reputation, 1.9 million), 2014 (1989, 3.66 million) and 2009 (Fearless, 3.22 million).

Swift has two of the top 10 selling albums of 2020, as her most recent album, Evermore (released on Dec. 11), was the year’s No. 10 seller with 283,000 copies. Both Folklore and Evermore were released with little notice, and both opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The latter gave Swift her eighth leader on the tally.

TOP 10 SELLING ALBUMS OF 2020 IN U.S.
1. Taylor Swift, Folklore (1.276 million)
2. BTS, Map of the Soul: 7 (674,009)
3. The Weeknd, After Hours (480,000)
4. Harry Styles, Fine Line (420,000)
5. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (348,000)
6. Lady Gaga, Chromatica (331,000)
7. Juice WRLD, Legends Never Die (301,000)
8. Halsey, Manic (301,000)
9. Eminem, Music to Be Murdered By (287,000)
10. Taylor Swift, Evermore (283,000)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

ALBUM SALES HAVE SMALLEST DECLINE SINCE 2015: Overall album sales, across all formats (CD, digital album, vinyl LP, cassettes, etc.) decreased by 9.2% to 102.4 million copies in 2020. Thanks to strong vinyl sales, 2020 marks smallest yearly decline for album sales since 2015, when volume fell by only 6% (aided by huge sales for Adele’s 25 album). Album sales fell 14.1% in 2016, 16.5% in 2017, 15.8% in 2018 and 15% in 2019.

Overall album sales last posted a yearly increase in 2011, when volume was up by 1.3%.

Physical album sales (CD, vinyl LP, cassette, etc.) fell by 7.4% in 2020 to 68.01 million — the smallest yearly decline since 2011, when physical album sales dropped by 5.2%. Digital album sales declined by 12.5% to 34.39 million in 2020, the smallest yearly erosion since 2015, when sales fell by just 3%.

In 2020, the CD was still king among formats in album sales, with 40.12 million copies sold (down 26%). Digital albums were the second-most popular format among consumers who purchased albums, with 34.39 million copies sold. Vinyl LP sales were the third-most popular selling format, with 27.54 million (up 46.2%). 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year vinyl album sales grew, and the largest year for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. Vinyl LP sales also saw its best sales week ever in the MRC Data era, when 1.84 million vinyl albums were sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020.

In 2020, the top selling artist, by album sales across all formats, was Swift. The superstar sold 1.94 million copies across her catalog of albums. The second-largest selling act, by album sales, was BTS with 1.54 million sold.

HOT WAX: Vinyl LP sales accounted for over a quarter of all album sales in 2020 – 26.9% (27.54 million of 102.4 million). Incredibly, vinyl LP sales comprised 40.5% of all physical albums sold in the U.S. in 2020 (27.54 million of 68.01 million). Both sums represent MRC Data-era records for vinyl’s share of the album sales market.

In 2020, there were a total of 51 albums that sold at least 50,000 copies on vinyl – up from just 23 in 2019. The year’s top-selling vinyl album is Harry Styles’ Fine Line, with 232,000 copies sold.

TOP 10 SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2020 IN U.S.
1. Harry Styles, Fine Line (232,000)
2. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (196,000)
3. Queen, Greatest Hits (176,000)
4. The Beatles, Abbey Road (161,000)
5. Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 (152,000)
6. Bob Marley and The Wailers, Legend: The Best Of… (148,000)
7. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (138,000)
8. Billie Eilish, Dont Smile at Me (126,000)
9. Michael Jackson, Thriller (125,000)
10. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (117,000)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

BIG "BOX": Roddy Ricch’s smash hit “The Box” was the most-streamed song of 2020, with 1.32 billion on-demand streams (audio and video combined). It’s also the top-streamed tune in terms of audio-only on-demand streams (920.42 million) and video-only on-demand streams (399.22 million).

“The Box” spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s weekly Streaming Songs chart in 2020, and collected 11 weeks atop the streaming-, airplay- and sales-based Billboard Hot 100 chart.In total, audio on-demand song streams grew 17% in 2020, rising to 872.6 billion clicks — a new yearly record.

The top 10 most-streamed songs of the year include releases such as DaBaby's "Rockstar," featuring Roddy Ricch (No. 3), Jack Harlow's "Whats Poppin" (No. 5), Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" (No. 7) and Doja Cat's "Say So" (No. 10) -- all of which got a boost from remixes issued after the songs' initial release. Those include a BLM Remix of "Rockstar;" a remix of "Whats Poppin" featuring DaBaby, Tory Lanez and Lil Wayne; a Beyoncé-assisted redux of "Savage" and a Nicki Minaj-aided rework of "Say So."

The R&B/hip-hop genre again commands the largest share of on-demand audio streams, with 30.7% of the year’s volume (267.55 billion of 872.59 billion). In 2019, R&B/hip-hop also represented 30.7%. Rock was 2020’s second-biggest genre in the on-demand audio streaming world, with 16.2% (142.15 billion of 872.59 billion).

TOP 10 MOST STREAMED SONGS OF 2020 IN U.S., ON-DEMAND (AUDIO & VIDEO COMBINED)
1. Roddy Ricch, “The Box” (1.32 billion)
2. Future featuring Drake, “Life Is Good” (1.035 billion)
3. DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch, “Rockstar” (863.95 million)
4. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (821.12 million)
5. Jack Harlow, “Whats Poppin” (788.74 million)
6. Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP” (732.7 million)
7. Megan Thee Stallion, “Savage” (612.03 million)
8. Lil Mosey, “Blueberry Faygo” (593.01 million)
9. Tones and I, “Dance Monkey” (570.48 million)
10. Doja Cat, “Say So” (562.38 million)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

TOP 10 ON-DEMAND STREAMS OF 2020 IN U.S., AUDIO-ONLY
1. Roddy Ricch, “The Box” (920.42 million)
2. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (691.5 million)
3. DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch, “Rockstar” (673.98 million)
4. Future featuring Drake, “Life Is Good” (651.34 million)
5. Jack Harlow, “Whats Poppin” (643.67 million)
6. Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP” (492.24 million)
7. Megan Thee Stallion, “Savage” (492.05 million)
8. Lil Mosey, “Blueberry Faygo” (490.75 million)
9. Post Malone, “Circles” (456.85 million)
10. Saint Jhn, “Roses” (454.85 million)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

TOP 10 ON-DEMAND STREAMS OF 2020 IN U.S., VIDEO-ONLY
1. Roddy Ricch, “The Box” (399.22 million)
2. Future featuring Drake, “Life Is Good” (383.57 million)
3. Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP” (240.45 million)
4. Pinkfong, “Baby Shark” (207.95 million)
5. DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch, “Rockstar” (189.97 million)
6. Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” (168.45 million)
7. Eminem featuring Juice WRLD, “Godzilla” (161.33 million)
8. Jack Harlow, “Whats Poppin” (145.06 million)
9. Tones and I, “Dance Monkey” (143.46 million)
10. 6ix9ine, “Gooba” (132.81 million)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

DIGITAL "DYNAMITE": For the second straight year, just one song sold in excess of 1 million downloads – BTS’ “Dynamite.” The tune sold 1.26 million downloads, more than twice the sales of the year’s second-biggest seller, The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (580,000). “Dynamite” marked BTS’ first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year ago, the top-selling digital song was Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” with 1.54 million -- aided in large part by its hit remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

For the eighth consecutive year, digital song sales declined. In 2020, 233.84 million digital songs were sold -- down 22.3% compared to 2019.

TOP 10 SELLING DIGITAL SONGS OF 2020 IN U.S.
1. BTS, “Dynamite” (1.26 million)
2. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (580,000)
3. Gabby Barrett, “I Hope” (351,000)
4. Tones and I, “Dance Monkey” (339,000)
5. Megan Thee Stallion, “Savage” (336,000)
6. Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, “WAP” (300,000)
7. Jawsh 685 x Jason Derulo, “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)” (299,000)
8. Blake Shelton Duet With Gwen Stefani, “Nobody But You” (288,000)
9. Post Malone, “Circles” (281,000)
10. Maroon 5, “Memories” (264,000)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.

THE WEEKND ‘LIGHTS’ UP RADIO: The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” was the biggest song on the radio in 2020, with 3.81 billion audience impressions earned across all monitored radio stations. Audience impressions are measured by cross-referencing plays with Nielsen Audio audience data -- i.e. a play of a song on a top-rated New York station at 8 a.m. on a Monday has more listeners (audience) than an overnight weekend play in a smaller city.“Blinding Lights” spent a record 26 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s all-format Radio Songs chart -- beating the 18-week rule of Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” in 1998.

TOP 10 RADIO SONGS OF 2020 IN U.S. (BASED ON AUDIENCE IMPRESSIONS)
1. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (3.81 billion)
2. Post Malone, “Circles” (3.51 billion)
3. Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now” (3.14 billion)
4. Harry Styles, “Adore You” (3.07 billion)
5. Maren Morris, “The Bones” (2.46 Billion)
6. Maroon 5, “Memories” (2.45 billion)
7. Gabby Barrett, “I Hope” (2.40 billion)
8. Lewis Capaldi, “Someone You Loved” (2.28 billion)
9. Lewis Capaldi, “Before You Go” (2.07 billion)
10. Doja Cat, “Say So” (2.02 billion)
Source: MRC Data, for the tracking period Jan. 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

* Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s consumption unit totals for album titles include SEA and TEA for an album's songs registered before an album's release, but during the tracking period. For example, Lil Baby’s My Turn album unit total includes SEA and TEA for its song “Woah” from Jan. 3 through Feb. 27, 2020, before the album was released on Feb. 28. (“Woah” was released in November of 2019.) 

** Audio equivalent album units comprise traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported on-demand official audio streams generated by songs from an album, or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio streams generated by songs from an album. Video streams are not factored into the audio equivalent album units total. Due to reporting methodology changes from a major video provider, year over year video streaming comparisons are not reflective industry trends and therefore are not included in this story. Equivalent album units do not include listening to music on broadcast radio or digital radio broadcasts.

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