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Metallica + Linkin Park Shine, But Rock Music on Decline According to 2017 Nielsen Sales Report

Rock In Rio USA - Rock Weekend - Day 2
Christopher Polk / Mauricio Santana, Getty Images

Despite strong showings from Metallica and Linkin Park, rock music as a whole experienced a decline in 2017, according to the annual Nielsen Music Year-End Report, which examines the trends shaping the music industry by analyzing figures and charts.

R&B and hip-hop became the most dominant genre in the United States for the first time ever, with a staggering nine of the Top 10 songs across all platforms coming from the category. The genre took a 24.5 percent total volume share as opposed to rock’s 20.8 percent share in physical and digital albums, digital track sales and on-demand audio streams.

It comes as no surprise that Metallica came out at No. 1 in the top five rock artists, totaling 1,836,000 units in album sales, track equivalent album sales and on demand audio stream equivalent album streaming. The band began the year with strong momentum from their November 2016 release of Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, which was their sixth consecutive album to debut at the top of the charts.

Linkin Park came in fourth place, trailing Imagine Dragons and The Beatles who checked in at No. 2 and 3 respectively. Twenty One Pilots took the fifth spot. While Linkin Park released their album One More Light in May of last year, it was the shocking death by suicide of frontman Chester Bennington in July which unfortunately led to a surge on the charts.

Overall, the music industry experienced a 12.5 percent growth in music consumption from the year prior, with the continued popularity of streaming leading the pack on all platforms with a mind-boggling 400.4 billion streams, up 58.7 percent from the year before. Album sales and track equivalent album sales amounted to 224.6 million, a 19.2 percent drop from the 277.9 million in 2016.

And while the number of 554.8 million digital track songs sold in 2017 looks impressive on paper, they are down 23.4 percent from 724 million sold in the year prior. Physical album sales continued to drop as well, with 102.9 albums sold as opposed to the 123.2 million moved the year prior. In the Top 10 of the latter, Metallica placed No. 9 overall with 585,000 copies of Hardwired…To Self-Destruct sold.

Another positive trend was the continued increase in sales of vinyl records, which experienced growth for the 12th consecutive year, moving 14.3 million units, up nine percent from 13.1 percent in 2016. To read the full Nielsen Music Year-End Report, click here.

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