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AKB48 Tops Billboard Japan’s 2016 Artist Ranking: See the List

Billboard's sister organization Billboard Japan has unveiled its Artist Ranking for 2016 and AKB48 nabbed the spot for Artist of the Year.

Billboard Japan's year-end Artist Ranking is based on the total points accumulated throughout the year from physical and digital sales (both singles and albums), radio airplay, Twitter mentions, YouTube and GYAO! view counts, Gracenote look-ups and streaming.

Out of the 59 charting tracks by AKB48, six tracks ranked within the 2016 year-end Japan Hot 100. Physical sales for AKB48's titles was a particularly strong driver, with "Tsubasa Wa Iranai," which included a voting ticket for the annual "Senbatsu Sousenkyo" (a popularity contest where fans can vote for their favorite member resulting in the winning members to be featured on the group's next single) boosting sales figures significantly. The song went on to sell over 2.5 million copies in traditional sales and topped the year-end Japan Hot 100. The sole exception was "365nichi no Kamihikouki" which came in No. 9 in streaming, No. 12 in downloads and No. 21 in video views, and proved to be a long-lasting hit, crossing over beyond the group's core fan base.

RADWIMPS came in a close second with four out of 32 songs hitting the year-end Japan Hot 100 and nine albums charting. In fact the figures were so close that if the tracking weeks for 2016 were merely a week off, RADWIMPS could have turned the results around and topped the ranking. The group accumulated a high volume of download points for "Zenzenzense" featured in Japan's No.1 grossing film of 2016 "Your Name" (Kimi No Na Wa), as the song was not released as a physical single. "Zenzenzense" and other songs by the band on the "Your Name" soundtrack also became a contributing factor to the increased popularity in the band's past catalog and their latest album "Ningen Kaika."

Breakout stars of 2016, Gen Hoshino and ONE OK ROCK also charted high, while Pikotaro who became an international sensation with viral hit "PPAP" didn't make the Top 20 list. Yet, the ranking was indicative of a new shift within the Japanese market where users' "exposure" to music and "ownership" became closely related resulting in the birth of a major hit.

Billboard JAPAN 2016 Artist Ranking
1. AKB48
3. Kana Nishino
4. Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE
5. Gen Hoshino
7. Arashi
8. back number
9. Hikaru Utada
10. Nogizaka46
11. E-girls
12. AAA
16. SMAP
17. Keyakizaka46
18. Perfume
19. Ketsumeishi
20. Namie Amuro