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‘Damn.’ scores the biggest debut of the year


Rapper Kendrick Lamar scored the biggest debut album of the year this week as his latest album “Damn.” sold more than 600,000 copies, eclipsing Drake’s “More Life.”

“Damn.”, the third album from Grammy-winning Lamar to top the Billboard 200 chart, sold a total of 603,000 album units that comprised 340 million streams, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan.

The Billboard 200 album chart tallies units from album sales, song sales (10 songs equal one album) and streaming activity (1,500 streams equal one album).

Lamar’s “Damn.” outpaced Canadian rapper Drake’s “More Life,” which debuted on the Billboard 200 chart in March with 505,000 album units sold in its first week.

At No 2 this week is singer-songwriter John Mayer’s latest album “Search For Everything,” which sold 132,000 album units, while Drake’s “More Life” dropped one spot to No 3 with 87,000 units sold.

The soundtrack to Universal Pictures’ blockbuster action film “Fate of the Furious” was the only other new entry in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week, entering at No 10 with 37,000 copies sold.

On the Digital Songs chart, which measures online single sales, electro-pop DJ Zedd and singer Alessia Cara’s dance track “Stay” jumped from No 10 to No 1, selling 91,000 copies

Meanwhile, massive growth in online streaming of artists such as Drake and David Bowie saw music industry revenues grow in 2016 at their fastest rate since records began, a global industry body said on Tuesday, even as physical sales fell again.

The global market for recorded music grew by 5.9 per cent in 2016, the quickest pace since industry body IFPI began tracking the market in 1997.

It expanded for a second straight year after losing nearly 40 per cent of its revenues in the preceding 15 years, with the recovery driven by a 60 per cent rise in income from streaming.

In all, digital income accounted for half of the music industry’s revenue for the first time.

The industry initially struggled with the demise of the market for physical sales, as the advent of the Internet facilitated illegal downloads that crimped profits.

However, the rise of subscription-based services such as Spotify has helped it recover, even as the market for physical formats has continued to shrink and download revenues have fallen too.

“As an industry, we’ve had years of investment in innovation to make (growth) happen, and we’re starting to see the shift... from adapting to the digital age, to actually driving the digital age,” Frances Moore, the CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), told reporters in London.

Total revenues for the industry were $15.7 billion in 2016, aided by 112 million users of paid music streaming subscriptions by the end of the year.

The growth in streaming more than offset a 20.5 per cent decline in downloads and a 7.6 per cent fall in revenue from physical sales.

The top-selling artist was Canadian rapper Drake, while the death of David Bowie spurred purchases to make him the second most popular artist of the year. Prince, who also died last year, was ninth on the list.

Despite the improvement, industry executives cautioned against complacency.

“We’re only two years into our recovery. We must remain alert, resourceful and ambitious,” said Stu Bergen, CEO of International and Global Commercial Services at Warner Music Group.

“We’re no longer running up a down escalator, but that doesn’t mean we can relax.”

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