NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 21: K-pop boy band BTS visit the SiriusXM Studios on February 21, 2020 … [+]
Getty Images for SiriusXM
Music consumption climbs every year, and that trend is sure to continue, as it’s tough to imagine the public deciding they no longer want to listen to their favorite albums and songs. While pressing play never stops, buying full-lengths does fall further and further out of fashion with every passing year, and 2020 saw purchases decline once again.
While even the biggest names in the music industry saw their sales totals dip (for the most part), some figures are still able to convince their fans to pick up a copy of their latest wares or head to iTunes or Amazon to download their newly-released albums, and just a pair of acts were able to hit a very special milestone in 2020.
It may be difficult to believe, but there were only two albums that managed to sell at least half a million copies in the U.S. last year, and one outperformed the other by a huge margin.
Taylor Swift’s Folklore and BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7 were the only two albums that racked up at least 500,000 sales in 2020, according to Nielsen Music’s annual report that details the state of the music industry. Plenty of other releases moved more equivalent units, but when looking solely at actual purchases, just those chart-toppers passed half a million sales (or more).
Leading the way when looking at sales is Folklore, which stands as the only effort to sell one million copies. Swift’s first surprise set was bought by 1.276 million people in the U.S. alone. That’s a sum that is nearly unheard of these days, and it’s even more impressive considering the title was released after 2020’s midway point.
Coming in a fairly distant second place is BTS’s Map of the Soul: 7, the South Korean septet’s fourth leader on the Billboard 200. The title opened with a massive first frame in the spring and kept on selling well throughout the year. It concluded 2020 having sold 674,000 copies, with many being in some physical form.
Just missing out on joining BTS and Swift in the half-million club is The Weeknd, who saw his latest release After Hours earn 480,000 pure sales.
Both Folklore and Map of the Soul: 7 debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and the two titles also saw singles open in first place on the Hot 100 in the same week as well. Before 2020, no musician had ever seen their names launch at No. 1 on both of Billboard’s most important rankings in the same week, so the two titans made history by doing just that.