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Despite the substantial album sales and media presence of such artists as Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton, 2015 was not a banner year for country music.

According to Nielsen Music’s 2015 year-end report released Wednesday (Jan. 7), country album sales constituted only 8.5 percent of the total U. S. market, with rock dominating at 24.5 percent and R&B-hip hop and pop coming in at 18.2 percent and 15.7, percent respectively.

Nielsen methodology powers the Billboard music charts.

Latin albums, a growing market, stood at 4.5 percent of the total, more than half of country’s share.

The year’s big news, of course, was the remarkable sales performance and excitement generated by Adele’s 25 album. It alone constituted 3.1 percent of the year’s total album sales and 16.4 percent of sales during the six weeks since 25 was released.

TEA and SEA equivalencies

In a chart spotlighting the year’s major musical triumphs, Nielsen noted that Chris Stapleton’s performance with Justin Timberlake on the CMA Awards show boosted sales for his Traveller album by 6,000 percent.

Nielsen’s year-end figures are an extravaganza of slicing and dicing, a method of finding distinctions undetectable by normal vision.

  • In addition to particular albums
  • That are purchased whole either physically
  • Digitally, there are “track equivalent albums”
  • TEA and “streaming equivalent albums” (SEA).
  • In these categories, 10 track downloads equal one
  • Album and 1,500 streams does the same.

Including TEA and SEA equivalencies, overall album consumption in the U.S. was up 15.2 percent over that of 2014 — from 476.9 million to 549.4 million albums, according to Nielsen.

  1. However, albums sales calculated
  2. Only in the CD, cassette, vinyl
  3. Digital formats were down by 6.1
  4. Percent from those in 2014 — from
  5. 257 million to 241.4 million.

In 2015, country sold 37 percent of its albums in physical configurations, 20 percent in digital, 24 percent in TEA and 19 percent in SEA.