Music Industry

Weekly Music Sales Report and Analysis: 31 December 2014

That’s it for 2014. And it’s another down year for music sales on both sides of the border, although it was less worse in Canada than it was in the US. We’ll finish the year down about 6% from 2013.

The last #1 album of the year will be 1989 from Taylor Swift, selling another 27,000 copies, followed by Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour (14,000) and AC/DC’s Rock or Bust about a thousand units behind that.

The big digital tracks in Canada this week are Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” with a solid 50,000 downloads in the last week, followed by Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” (43,000) and Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” (41,000). Those are very high weekly numbers for this country. And when it comes to streaming in Canada, it’s “Blank Space” in the #1 slot with 1,014,740 listens.

Over in the US, Taylor Swift is back at #1, selling the equivalent of 430,000 copies (album sales + track equivalent sales + streaming equivalent sales), good for her seventh non-consecutive week at the top.  In her career, she’s spent 31 weeks at #1 with a total of four top-of-the-chart albums.  Only Whitney Houston has had more #1 weeks at 46.  Another note: 1989 has sold like no other album since 2004, moving at least 200,000 copies in each of its nine weeks of release. The last person to do that was Usher and his Confessions album.

In terms of downloads, it’s “Blank Space” from Taylor Swift at #1 with sales of 503,000, an increase of more than 100% from last week’s 228,000.

And there were no songs that streamed more than 10 million times this past week, although two Megan Trainor singles–“All About That Bass” and “Lips Are Movin'”–topped the nine million mark. To make into the Top Ten on the streaming chart, a song had to have 6.9 million listens.

Finally, some stats about 2014 US record sales (I don’t have any comparable stats for Canada just yet):

  • Swift’s 1989 is now officially the top-selling US album of 2014, moving 3.66 million units to the Frozen soundtrack’s 3.53 million. Those, by the way, are the only two albums to sell more than 3 million copies in this calendar year. The year’s third best-seller was In the Lonely Hour by Sam Smith with 1.21 million units.  Remember when records used to sell that many copies in one week? By way of comparison, last year’s top-selling album was The 20/20 Experience from Justin Timberlake with a total of 2.43 million.
  • In 2013, 45 album sold more than 500,000 copies. In 2014, that number dropped to 31.  Only four–FOUR–sold more than a million (Taylor Swift, Frozen, Sam Smith and Pentatonix’s Christmas album.
  • Overall album sales fell in the US by 11%, 257 million albums vs 289.4 million in 2014.  Digital album sales dropped for the first time, too, declining by 9%.
  • 41% of all albums sold in the US in 2014 were digital.  Of Taylor Swift’s sales of 3.66 million, 1.31 million were sold as downloads.
  • The biggest-selling digital song of 2014 was “Happy” from Pharrell Williams with 6.45 million downloads.
  • A total of 82 songs sold at least a million downloads in 2014, down from 106 in 2013 and 108 in 2012.
  • The one bright spot?  Vinyl. It continued to do well with a sales increase of 52% from 2013, moving from 6.9 million units to 9.2 million. More vinyl albums were sold than in any other year since Nielsen Soundscan started tracking music sales back in 1991.

All number courtesy Nielsen Soundscan


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.

Alan Cross has 37441 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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