Morgan Wallen & Olivia Rodrigo Lead MRC Data 2021 Midyear Charts

Equivalent album units — for album titles and chart rankings cited below — comprise traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album, or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album. (For the sake of clarity, equivalent album units do not include listening to music on broadcast radio or digital radio broadcasts.) All numbers cited in this story are for the U.S. only.

Dangerous is the first album with 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since 2016, when Drake’s Views notched 13 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1. Dangerous is also the first album to spend its first 10 weeks at No. 1 since 1987, when Whitney Houston’s Whitney album logged all 11 of its weeks at No. 1 from its debut week (from the June 27 through Sept. 5, 1987-dated charts). Dangerous is also one of just four country albums to spend at least 10 weeks at No. 1 since the chart began publishing on a regular weekly basis in March of 1956.

Of Dangerous’ 2.108 million units earned, SEA units comprise 1.828 million (equaling 2.497 billion on-demand streams of the album’s 32 songs in 2021). Album sales comprise 241,000 and TEA units comprise 39,000.

The top five most popular albums at the midyear point are rounded out by Rodrigo’s debut album Sour (1.367 million units), Justin Bieber’s Justice (962,000), Pop Smoke’s Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (948,000) and The Weeknd’s After Hours (832,000). Shoot for the Stars and After Hours were both released in 2020, while Sour and Justice dropped in 2021.

A year ago, at the midyear point of 2020, After Hours was the No. 2 biggest album, and went on to finish 2020 as the No. 4 album of the year, per MRC Data. Meanwhile, Shoot for the Stars closed 2020 as the No. 3 biggest set.

Equivalent Album Units Rise 13.5%: Year-to-date, total equivalent album units stand at 434.7 million — up 13.5% compared to the first half of 2020 (382.9 million in the timespan of Jan. 3 through July 2, 2020).

‘License’ to Stream: Olivia Rodrigo’s smash hit “Drivers License” is the most-streamed song in the first half of 2021 (see list, below), with 582.8 million on-demand streams (audio and video combined). It’s also the most streamed audio track (460.2 million) and video (122.6 million).

“License” debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 songs chart (dated Jan. 23), which ranks the most popular songs of the week by blending streaming, airplay and sales data. The track marked Rodrigo’s first chart-topper, and first properly promoted single to radio, streaming services and other platforms, and spent eight weeks, all consecutive, at No. 1.

“License” is also the No. 6 biggest-selling digital song of 2021 so far, with 199,000 downloads sold. The top-selling song is BTS’ “Butter,” which churned out 841,000 downloads sold. Total digital song sales fell 20.3% in the first half of 2021, with 101.8 million sold (down from 127.8 million in the first six months of 2020).

“License” is additionally the No. 8 biggest song in terms of radio audience for the first six months of 2021, with 1.227 billion audience impressions registered across all formats of radio. Chris Brown and Young Thug’s “Go Crazy” is the No. 1 tune at radio, with 1.570 billion in audience.

Taylor’s Tops: Taylor Swift’s Evermore is the top-selling album so far in 2021, with 374,000 copies sold, while she has two more titles among the top 10 sellers of the year: Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is the No. 3 seller with 237,000 and Folklore is No. 6 with 153,000. (While Dangerous leads in total consumption, it’s the No. 2 overall selling album, with 241,000 copies sold.)

Meanwhile, 38% of Evermore’s year-to-date sales came from its vinyl LP, with 143,000 copies sold, which also makes it the top-selling vinyl album of the year. In the week ending June 3, Evermore returned to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a fourth nonconsecutive week on top, thanks in large part to historic vinyl sales. The album sold 102,000 copies on vinyl that week, breaking the record for the biggest sales week for a vinyl album since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991.

Evermore is also the top-selling physical album overall (vinyl LP, CD, cassette, etc., combined) with 320,000 copies sold. It’s the No. 3-selling digital album (54,000), while Wallen’s Dangerous is the top-selling digital set with 135,000 downloads sold. Swift is, unsurprisingly, the top-selling act in vinyl album sales, with 323,000 copies sold across all of her catalog in 2021. The Beatles are the No. 2 vinyl seller, with 258,000.

Swift is also the top-selling artist, by total overall album sales, with 934,000 copies sold of her entire catalog across all formats. BTS is the second-biggest-selling albums act, with 588,000 copies sold of the group’s albums. Swift is also the top-selling artist by physical album sales, with 746,000 sold. BTS is runner-up in total physical album sales, with 573,000 sold — all from CD album sales.

BTS is the top-selling act in total CD album sales at the midyear point with 573,000 copies sold. Swift is No. 2 with 414,000.

Overall Album Sales Grow: Though consumers continue to transition to enjoying music via streaming services, total album sales across all formats (physical CDs, vinyl LPs, cassettes, etc., along with digital album downloads) were up 12.6% in the first half of the year, with 51.3 million copies sold. In the first half of 2020, there were 45.5 million albums sold.

Total physical album sales (CDs, vinyl LPs, cassettes, etc.) rose by 37.5% (38.3 million, as compared to 27.9 million in the first half of 2020), while digital album sales declined 26.8% (12.9 million, compared to 17.7 million in 2020).

Vinyl Beats CDs: For the first time at the midyear point since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991, vinyl album sales outpace CD album sales, and vinyl is the leading format for album sales overall (19.2 million vinyl LPs vs. 18.9 million CD albums sold). Total vinyl album sales grew 108.2% in the first half of 2021 (19.2 million, as compared to 9.2 million in the first half of 2020).

And, despite vinyl having overtaken the CD — at least in the first half of the year — CD album sales increased as well. The format sold 18.9 million copies — up 2.2% compared to the 18.5 million sold in the first half of 2020.

Digital albums are the third-most popular format for album sales, with 12.9 million downloads sold in 2021 (down 26.8% compared to the 17.7 million sold in the first half of 2020).

All album sales, and general industry trends, from March 2020 onward should be viewed through a COVID-19-impacted lens. In the second quarter of 2020, many brick and mortar music stores had to shutter temporarily and alter their business model due to pandemic-related complications. That said, for the whole of 2020, overall album sales had their smallest yearly decline since 2015 (down just 9.2%), thanks to strong vinyl LP sales. 2020 marked the 15th consecutive year of growth for vinyl album sales.

Vinyl album sales for 2021 are on course to surpass the format’s 2020 figures, as vinyl LP sales stand at 19.2 million at the midyear point. In total for 2020, there were 27.5 million vinyl albums sold.

Total On-Demand Streams Jump 10.8%: Year-to-date on-demand song streams (audio and video combined) stand at 555.3 billion. That’s up 10.8% compared to the first half of 2020, when 501 billion streams were generated.

Audio on-demand streams grew 15% to 482.8 billion (up from 419.8 billion) and video on-demand streams fell 10.7% to 72.5 billion (down from 81.2 billion).

MRC Data’s Midyear 2021 Charts:

2021’s Midyear Top 10 Albums (Based on Overall Equivalent Album Units*)
1. Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album (2.108 million)
2. Olivia Rodrigo, Sour (1.367 million)
3. Justin Bieber, Justice (962,000)
4. Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (948,000)
5. The Weeknd, After Hours (832,000)
6. Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (829,000)
7. Taylor Swift, Evermore (818,000)
8. Luke Combs, What You See Is What You Get (740,000)
9. Lil Durk, The Voice (735,000)
10. Ariana Grande, Positions (707,000)

2021’s Midyear Top 10 Selling Albums
1. Taylor Swift, Evermore (374,000)
2. Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album (241,000)
3. Taylor Swift, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (237,000)
4. Carrie Underwood, My Savior (211,000)
5. Harry Styles, Fine Line (162,000)
6. Taylor Swift, Folklore (153,000)
7. Olivia Rodrigo, Sour (146,000)
8. BTS, Be (128,000)
9. Foo Fighters, Medicine at Midnight (126,000)
10. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (118,000)

2021’s Midyear Top 10 Selling Vinyl Albums
1. Taylor Swift, Evermore (143,000)
2. Harry Styles, Fine Line (125,000)
3. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (99,000)
4. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (89,000)
5. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (Soundtrack) (86,000)
6. Michael Jackson, Thriller (86,000)
7. Billie Eilish, Dont Smile at Me (83,000)
8. Taylor Swift, Folklore (82,000)
9. Queen, Greatest Hits (75,000)
10. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (73,000)

2021’s Midyear Top 10 Selling Digital Songs
1. BTS, “Butter” (841,000)
2. BTS, “Dynamite” (283,000)
3. Masked Wolf, “Astronaut In the Ocean” (246,000)
4. Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby, “Levitating” (238,000)
5. Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak), “Leave the Door Open” (203,000)
6. Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License” (199,000)
7. The Weeknd, “Save Your Tears” (187,000)
8. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (176,000)
9. Cardi B, “Up” (166,000)
10. Saweetie featuring Doja Cat, “Best Friend” (148,000)

2021’s Midyear Top 10 On-Demand Song Streams (Audio & Video Combined)
1. Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License” (582.8 million)
2. Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby, “Levitating” (438.0 million)
3. The Weeknd, “Save Your Tears” (411.0 million)
4. Cardi B, “Up” (376.0 million)
5. Pooh Shiesty featuring Lil Durk, “Back In Blood” (370.0 million)
6. Spotemgottem, “Beatbox” (369.0 million)
7. Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” (366.0 million)
8. Masked Wolf, “Astronaut In the Ocean” (341.1 million)
9. Lil Tjay featuring 6lack, “Calling My Phone” (339.0 million)
10. Polo G, “Rapstar” (337.3 million)

2021’s Midyear Top 10 On-Demand Audio Streams
1. Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License” (460.2 million)
2. Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby, “Levitating” (367.1 million)
3. The Weeknd, “Save Your Tears” (334.0 million)
4. Polo G, “Rapstar” (282.0 million)
5. Cardi B, “Up” (278.0 million)
6. SZA, “Good Days” (275.0 million)
7. Pooh Shiesty featuring Lil Durk, “Back In Blood” (273.5 million)
8. Masked Wolf, “Astronaut In the Ocean” (273.0 million)
9. Lil Tjay featuring 6lack, “Calling My Phone” (271.2 million)
10. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (263.0 million)

2021’s Midyear Top 10 Radio Songs (Based on Audience)
1. Chris Brown and Young Thug, “Go Crazy” (1.570 billion)
2. Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby, “Levitating” (1.438 billion)
3. 24kGoldn featuring Iann Dior, “Mood” (1.395 billion)
4. Ariana Grande, “Positions” (1.374 billion)
5. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” (1.361 billion)
6. The Weeknd, “Save Your Tears” (1.326 billion)
7. Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak), “Leave the Door Open” (1.261 billion)
8. Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License” (1.227 billion)
9. Ariana Grande, “34+35” (1.170 billion)
10. Billie Eilish, “Therefore I Am” (1.146 billion)

* MRC Data’s equivalent album unit totals for titles include SEA and TEA for an album’s songs registered before an album’s release, but during the tracking period.

Source: MRC Data, for tracking period of Jan. 1 – July 1, 2021.