MRC Data’s 2020 U.S. Year-End Report, presented for the first time in collaboration with Billboard, reveals that total audio consumption overcame significant behavioral changes in 2020 and grew 11.6% over the year prior.
Before the world shut down, audio streaming was growing steadily through early March, up 20% over the same period in 2019, while total audio consumption (which includes album sales) was up 15% in the first 10 weeks of the year. Despite a 5.7% decline during the first eight weeks of lockdown, on-demand audio consumption rebounded throughout the remainder of the year and finished 2020 with a 17% increase year-over-year — to a record 872.6 billion streams. For full-year 2020, total audio consumption was up 11.6% to 756.8 million album equivalent units.
Vinyl also completed its 15-year growth streak and broke the milestone for the format’s biggest sales week since MRC Data began electronically tracking vinyl in 1991. Record Store Day’s Black Friday 2020 event helped sell 1.253 million albums the week ending Dec. 3, while holiday shopping led to a record total of 1.841 million vinyl albums sold in the week ending Dec. 24 (up 27.5% from the previous week).
On the artist front, The Weeknd, Lil Baby, and Taylor Swift highlighted a year of music-listening milestones with the most-played song at radio (“Blinding Lights”), most-popular album (My Turn), and best-selling album (folklore).