In spite of Adele's staggering record-breaking sales, total album sales in Canada fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2015. Big names still made a splash – Adele's 25 sold 860,000 copies, while Justin Bieber, Drake, Yoan and Jean Leloup each sold more than 100,000 copies of their latest albums – but total album sales fell 3 per cent from 2014.
Canadians, in other words, are happy to rally around music that becomes a must-hear event, but are buying fewer albums in general. That's one of the findings Nielsen Music revealed Thursday in its 2015 year-end Canadian market report. The media measurement company also found that streaming is growing at a rapid pace and makes up for falling sales: on-demand streams through services like Spotify rose 114 per cent in the second half of 2015 over the same period in 2014.
This, says David Bakula, Nielsen's senior vice-president of analytics, meant Canadians consumed 15 per cent more music in total for the same half-year measurement period. (Nielsen only began collecting streaming data in Canada in mid-2014.)
"Those small decreases we're seeing in album and track sales are being more than made up for by the gigantic increase we're seeing in streaming," Mr. Bakula said in an interview.
Nielsen also found Canadians are continuing to move away from buying CDs – they bought 15.2 million of them in 2015, or 8 per cent fewer than 2014. Adele sold 622,000 CD copies of 25 – meaning that one in every 25 CDs sold was literally a copy of 25, boosting what might thave been a truly dismal year for CD sales.
To illustrate Adele's outsized influence, one can turn to Canada's own Justin Bieber, whose redemption album Purpose was the second-biggest record of the year here. It sold 227,000 total copies – roughly a quarter of what Adele sold – and only 48 per cent of those were CDs.
Canadians did, however, take an outsized of sales on their home turf. Five of the year's 10 bestsellers were by Canadian artists – a rate not seen since 2006. Two of those artists, Yoan and Jean Leloup, are from Quebec, a province with a history of fiercely supporting its own, even in the face of broader downward sales trends.
"The level of engagement that francophone acts have is to be envied by the rest of the country," Mr. Bakula said.
Digital album sales grew 2 per cent year-over-year after a slight downtick in 2014, while individual track sales fell 5 per cent in the same period. Canada was also home to 25 billion on-demand streams over the course of the year.
And vinyl continued its 21st-century comeback, with sales rising 30 per cent over 2014. The bestseller, with 6,200 copies sold? Adele's 25.