It was largely business as usual in last week’s Nielsen Music Midyear Report. Streaming is up, traditional album sales are down, vinyl’s heroic resurgence persists, and CDs and digital albums continue their death march into obscurity. Oh, and BTS is still crushing it.
The Korean pop septet’s new album, Map of the Soul: 7, is the bestselling physical album of the year and the only one to sell over 500,000 copies in the United States, more than doubling the sales of runner-up Kenny Chesney. Map of the Soul: 7 is also the ninth-biggest overall album of the year, moving 842,000 equivalent units derived from album sales, track downloads and streams.
Half a century after their breakup, The Beatles are still the biggest rock band of 2020, shifting 1.094 million album-equivalent units through the first six months of the year, 326,000 units ahead of the genre’s second-place finisher, Queen. The Fab Four also had the fifth-bestselling vinyl album of the year, selling 54,000 copies of their 1969 opus Abbey Road. They had good company in the vinyl category, including fellow classic rock icons Queen and Pink Floyd, pop supernova Billie Eilish and retro-rock heartthrob Harry Styles. The Beatles also perform exceptionally well on streaming services, with many songs racking up hundreds of millions of plays.
It’s fitting that the Beatles and BTS—two boy bands that dominated the music industry nearly six decades apart—would be the bestselling groups of 2020. Both groups enchanted waves of fans around the world with their talent and charisma, cultivating unique personas to stand out from their bandmates. Both groups continued to one-up themselves with a series of increasingly ambitious and successful albums. And based on Nielsen’s Midyear Report, neither group’s popularity shows any signs of waning.