Canadian music sales have NOT gone off a cliff because of the coronavirus. But streams are down.

Like everything else, the recorded music industry is being ravaged by the coronavirus. In the US, last week saw the fewest number of records sold since the 1960s. It would have been worse if The Weeknd–a Canadian–hadn’t come to the rescue with a big first week with his After Hours album. It sold a hair over 275,000 physical copies.

That’s actual CDs. And that’s 238,000 more copies than the number two album in America, Conan Gray’s Kid Krow.

In Canada, overall album sales are down by 30.5% year-to-date. But if you combine sales with streams using the industry standard Track Equivalent Albums formula (1500 streams from a given album equals one album sold), things are actually ahead of 2019 by 9.8%.

The Weeknd Effect? Yep.

In Canada, After Hours sold 34,742 physical copies. Weeknd sales plus Weeknd stream boosted TEA sales up by a whopping 36.7% from the previous week. CD sales were up 70% from a week earlier. Digital album sales were ahead by 39.3% over the same period. Even vinyl was up week-over-week by 0.9%. Crunching all those numbers and you have total album sales sitting at +48% over just one week.

Still, on-demand audio streams have dropped for the second week in a row. After hitting an all-time high of over 1.6 billion weekly streams two weeks earlier, the number last week is 1.497 billion.

Another big winner over the last week were on-demand video streams. The change from last year at this time is 53.8%.

So a big win for The Weeknd. But with superstar grade albums scheduled for this week, this will probably will be just a blip.

Fun fact: The top two selling digital tracks in the US last week were “The Gambler” and “Islands in the Stream” from Kenny Rogers. “Dance Monkey” from Tones and I was number one in Canada, but “The Gambler” was number two. “Islands in the Stream” was number 5.

(All numbers courtesy Nielsen Music Canada)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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