BTS Is the World’s Top Artist, Per IFPI Report

The global recorded music market grew by 18.5% in 2021, driven by growth in paid subscription streaming, according to IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), the organization that represents the recorded music industry worldwide. Figures released Tuesday in IFPI’s Global Music Report show total revenues for 2021 were $25.9 billion.

While the free version of the report does not attach numbers to all of the rankings, they’re pretty fascinating anyway:

The top 10 global artists, based on “consumption across all formats and all countries, weighted based on the value of each method of consumption,” are:

  1. BTS
  2. Taylor Swift
  3. Adele
  4. Drake
  5. Ed Sheeran
  6. The Weeknd
  7. Billie Eilish
  8. Justin Bieber
  9. Seventeen
  10. Olivia Rodrigo

The top 10 global digital singles were:

  1. The Weeknd “Save Your Tears” (2.15 billion streams)
  2. The Kid Lario, Justin Bieber “Stay” (2.07 bn)
  3. Dua Lipa “Levitating (1.88 bn)
  4. BTS “Butter” (1.76 bn)
  5. Olivia Rodrigo “Drivers License” (1.73 bn)
  6. Justin Bieber (ft. Daniel Caesar and Giveon) “Peaches” (1.72 bn)
  7. The Weeknd “Blinding Lights” (1.61 bn)
  8. Olivia Rodrigo “Good 4 U” (1.61. bn)
  9. Lil Nas X “Montero” (1.6 bn)
  10. Ed Sheeran “Bad Habits” (1.57 bn)

The top 10 all-format albums were:

  1. Adele “30”
  2. Olivia Rodrigo “Sour”
  3. Justin Bieber “Justice”
  4. Ed Sheeran “=”
  5. The Weeknd “After Hours”
  6. Dua Lipa “Future Nostalgia”
  7. The Kid Laroi “F— Love” (mixtape)
  8. ABBA “Voyage”
  9. Morgan Wallen “Dangerous: The Double Album”
  10. Doja Cat “Planet Her”

And, for good measure, the top-selling vinyl titles across the world were:

  1. Adele “30” (862,000 global units)
  2. Harry Styles “Fine Line” (397,000)
  3. Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” (346,000)
  4. Olivia Rodrigo “Sour” (339,000)
  5. Billie Eilish “Happier Than Ever” (335,000)
  6. Taylor Swift “Red (Taylor’s Version)” (325,000)
  7. The Beatles “Abbey Road” (283,000)
  8. Nirvana “Nevermind” (274,000)
  9. Pink Floyd “Drk Side of the Moon” (272,000)
  10. Taylor Swift “Evermore” (270,000)

Digging into the data, the report notes that paid subscription streaming revenues increased by 21.9% to $12.3 billion, with 523 million users of paid subscription accounts at the end of 2021. (See the full report here.)

Total streaming (including both paid subscription and advertising-supported) grew by 24.3% to reach $16.9 billion, or 65% of total global recorded music revenues. In addition to streaming revenues, growth was supported by gains in other areas, including physical formats (up 16.1%) and performance rights (up 4%).

Growth in the world’s other regions:

Recorded music revenues grew in every region around the world in 2021:

  • Asia grew by 16.1%, with its largest market, Japan, seeing growth of 9.3%. Excluding Japan the region experienced a 24.6% climb in revenues. In a continuing trend, Asia also accounted for a significant share of the global physical revenues (49.6%).
  • Australasia experienced growth of 4.1%. Australia (up 3.4%) remained a top 10 market globally and New Zealand saw a rise in streaming revenues push the overall market to growth of 8.2%.
  • Revenues in Europe, the second-largest recorded music region in the world, grew by 15.4%, a steep increase on the prior year’s growth rate of 3.2%. The region’s biggest markets all saw double digit percentage growth: the U.K. (up 13.2%), Germany (up 12.6%) and France (up 11.8%).
  • Latin America saw growth of 31.2% – one of the highest growth rates globally. Streaming accounted for 85.9% of the market, one of the highest proportions in any region.
  • Middle East and North Africa – split out as a separate region in the Global Music Report for the first time – experienced growth of 35.0%; the fastest regional growth rate globally. Streaming was a particularly strong driver in the region, with a 95.3% share of the market.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa – also split out for the first time in IFPI’s reporting – saw revenue growth of 9.6% in 2021, largely driven by streaming. Ad-supported was particularly strong in this region, with revenues from this format growing by 56.4%.
  • The USA & Canada region grew by 22.0% in 2021, outpacing the global growth rate. The USA market alone grew by 22.6% and Canadian recorded music revenues grew by 12.6%.

Opening a press conference in London to announce the report, IFPI CEO Frances Moore expressed concern regarding events in Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis, saying: “IFPI stands with our colleagues across the music community in our support for urgent humanitarian relief for refugees and our call for an end to the violence.”

Commenting on the report, Moore continued: “Around the world, record companies are engaging at a very local level, to support music cultures and bring on the development of emerging music ecosystems – championing local music and creating the opportunities for it to reach a global audience. As more markets mature, they join with and contribute to the rich, globally interconnected music world.

“Consequently, today’s music market is the most competitive in memory.  Fans are enjoying more music than ever and in so many different and new ways.  This creates enormous opportunities for artists. Those who choose to partner with a record company, do so to benefit from the support of agile, highly responsive global teams of experts dedicated to helping them achieve creative and commercial success and build their long-term careers.

“As technologies and the online environment continue to evolve and expand, so too do the creative opportunities to share music experiences.  From the metaverse, to in-game content, record companies have invested in the people and the technologies to deliver new, highly interactive experiences – adding to the evolving ways for artists to make connections with their fans.”