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Nielsen: Metallica Was the Most Popular Rock Band of 2017

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 14: James Hetfield of Metallica In Concert - East Rutherford, NJ on May 14, 2017 in East Rutherford City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Nielsen has crunched the numbers and released its annual year-end-report about the music industry. Several trends stand out:

  • Music sales plummeted, with a 17.7 percent year-over-year drop in pure album sales and a 23.4 percent drop in pure track sales
  • Streaming services are consolidating power as on-demand audio streams increased 58.7 percent
  • R&B/hip-hop was the most consumed genre for the first time, accounting for 24.5 percent of U.S. music consumption, plus seven of the top 10 selling songs
  • “Despacito” was as inescapable as you remember, tallying over 300 million more streams than any other single

The report also reveals interesting data about the staying power of legacy acts. Vinyl LP sales rose in 2017 (as did cassette tape sales), and the highest selling vinyl was The BeatlesSgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band. What’s more, the year’s most popular rock act—based on total album sales plus album sale equivalents; one album sale equals 10 track sales or 1500 track streams, respectively—was Metallica.

Nielsen: Metallica Was the Most Popular Rock Band of 2017

Imagine Dragons, Portugal. the Man, and Twenty One Pilots dominated Nielsen’s rock song rankings, but Metallica was the genre’s most popular artist, boosted by a deluxe reissue of its 1986 album Master of Puppets and the continued success of its 2016 album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Like several pop acts, the 38-year-old band sold copies of its most recent project bundled with tickets to its North American tour, bumping Hardwired to platinum.

So, further proof that it’s possible to survive live television debacles. You can read Nielsen’s full report here.