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Nielsen Releases 2016 Canada Year-End Report

6 minute read | January 2017

Highly Anticipated Report Provides Comprehensive Coverage of the Year in Music

New York, NY – Jan. 11, 2017 – Nielsen, the industry’s leading source for music data and insights, today released its 2016 Canada Year-End Report for the 12-month period ending Dec. 29, 2016. This highly anticipated report provides comprehensive coverage of the year in music from the coveted Nielsen Music Year-End charts, presented by Billboard, to insights on the most important industry trends from sales and streaming to social media and overall consumer engagement across today’s most popular platforms.

The Nielsen Music Canada Year-End Report confirms that the music industry experienced steady and consistent growth in 2016, with total audio consumption up 5.3% over 2015, fueled by a 203% increase in on-demand audio streams compared to last year. The industry did experience decreases in digital album and digital track sales, but the growth in streaming led the total digital music consumption to be up over 4% this year. In 2016, catalogue album sales surpassed current sales for the first time in the Nielsen era. 2016 also marked the highest vinyl sales total to date with a 29% increase over 2015.

This year’s report shows that six of the top 10 best-selling albums for 2016 belong to Canadian artists, with Drake’s Views finishing at No. 1. This marks the first year since 2004 that the top selling album of the year came from a Canadian artist. Five of the top ten airplay songs also belong to Canadian artists, including Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which landed at No. 1.

Additionally, eight different Canadian artists had No. 1 albums on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart in 2016, including Drake, who spent 12 weeks at No. 1 – the most of any act this year. The Tragically Hip had two albums reach the top of the chart, including their latest release and their 2005 Yer Favourites album. Justin Bieber, Billy Talent, Celine Dion, Shawn Mendes, Leonard Cohen and The Weeknd also spent time at No. 1.

“2016 was an exciting year for Canadian artists and the overall Canadian music industry,” said Paul Shaver, Head of Nielsen Music Canada. “From the increased popularity of streaming to the total consumption growth, the music landscape continues to evolve at an incredible speed, and we’re looking forward to tracking the industry trends for the year ahead.”

Other notable insights and trends from the 2016 Nielsen Music Canada Year-End Report, include:

  • Drake’s Views was the most consumed album of 2016 by far, with 457,000 total consumption units. The album spent 12 weeks at No. 1 during the year, and it narrowly edged out Adele’s 25 to become the highest selling album, while picking up the highest digital song sales for an album.
  • Drake also set a new streaming standard this year. His album Views garnered over 290M streams, more than twice as many as Justin Bieber’s Purpose, which was the second highest streamed album for the year. Views had more than 10M streams for each of its first eight weeks of release, and was the highest streamed album for each of its first 27 weeks of release. It had the highest one week stream total to date when it compiled over 22M streams in its debut week, an amount surpassed later in the year when The Weeknd’s Starboy picked up 27M streams in its debut week.
  • The Chainsmokers were another act that achieved great streaming success this year. They landed the top two on-demand audio streaming songs of 2016, with “Closer” finishing first and “Don’t Let Me Down” in second. Their album Collage also comes in 10th on the consumption chart for 2016, despite only selling 6K units. The songs from the album totaled over 111M on-demand audio streams and over 550K digital song downloads.
  • Digital song sales showed declines versus last year, with only four songs surpassing 300,000 digital song sales in 2016, compared with eleven in 2015. Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” led the way, followed by songs from Lukas Graham, Drake and Mike Posner. However, streaming consumption continues to be strong with 14 songs scoring over 50 million streams in 2016, compared with just one in 2015.
  • Fans showed their support for The Tragically Hip. Their latest album, Man Machine Poem, and their 2005 best of release, Yer Favourites, both reached #1 on the weekly Billboard Canadian charts. Their overall album catalogue also sold over 250,000 units in 2016 and picked up over 67M streams.
  • A pair of big albums from Canadian artists received the bulk of their consumption from album sales. Celine Dion’s Encore Un Soir is the No. 8 album on the YTD Overall Top 10 chart, with over 85% of its overall activity coming from physical sales. Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker, which spent three weeks at number one this year, received 78% of its total consumption from physical sales.
  • Eight different Canadian artists reached No. 1 on the weekly Billboard Canadian charts in 2016. Drake led the way, spending 12 weeks at No. 1, while The Tragically Hip had two albums top the chart. The other No. 1 albums belonged to Justin Bieber, Billy Talent, Celine Dion, Shawn Mendes, Leonard Cohen and The Weeknd.
  • Six artists had albums that sold over 100,000 units in 2016 – Drake, Adele, Celine Dion, Leonard Cohen, Metallica, and Beyoncé – compared to 10 in 2015. Adele’s 25 was the one release that reached that threshold in each year.
  • 2016 marked the highest yearly vinyl sales to date, up 29% over last year. Bob Marley and The Wailers’ classic album Legend was the #1 vinyl title of the year, while albums from The Tragically Hip and Gord Downie each placed in the top five.
  • While Rock continues to be a very strong genre in terms of sales, the streaming landscape is led by R&B/Hip-Hop. It is one of three major genres, including Dance/Electronic and Rap, where well more than half of its total consumption comes from streaming.
  • Catalogue albums sales were 51% of total album sales surpassing current album sales for the first time in 2016.
  • At radio, five of the top ten most played songs this year belonged to Canadian artists, compared with just one in 2015. Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” topped the list, while breakout hits from Alessia Cara and Coleman Hell had big years.


Mat Newman mnewman@rogersandcowan.comChris Robins crobins@rogersandcowan.comBrian Giglio


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit