In a year when a lot of country music’s top product was a repeat, Zach Bryan provided a slightly new sonic shade.
His lonesome “Something in the Orange” racked up 432.1 million on-demand audio and video streams to become the most streamed country song of 2022, according to year-end figures provided by Luminate. Likewise, his album American Heartbreak, released May 20, landed at No. 2 among the Top Country Albums, accruing over 1 million total equivalent album units.
American Heartbreak, Luke Combs’ Growin’ Up (No. 7) and Bailey Zimmerman’s Leave the Light On (No. 10) were the only new titles among the top 10 most popular country albums for 2022, ruled by Morgan Wallen’s 2021 release Dangerous: The Double Album for the second year in a row.
In fact, five of the seven albums that repeated among this year’s top 10 finished in the exact same chart position they occupied one year ago: Dangerous, Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) (No. 3), Combs’ This One’s for You (No. 5), Wallen’s If I Know Me (No. 6) and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (No. 8).
Four of last year’s 10 most streamed country songs were also holdovers from 2021’s top 10, though only one resided in the exact same position: Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” at No. 4. The other three returnees among the top streamers: Wallen’s “Wasted On You” and “Whiskey Glasses,” plus Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like.”
While the successful titles remained a tad static, the modes of consumption continued to change, with streaming up and music ownership dropping over 20%.
Country’s total on-demand streams, audio and video combined — including user-generated content (UGC) — rose 9.8% to 92.5 billion streams, an increase that trailed the overall industry, which rose 12.4% to 1.27 trillion streams. (Album titles and album chart rankings by equivalent album units do not include UGC streams, but UGC is included in Luminate’s industry volume numbers. UGC streams are not factored into any of Billboard’s weekly charts.)
Country’s total equivalent album units increased by 4.8% to 75.7 million units, compared with the overall industry, which expanded 9.2% to 974.9 million units.
In 2021, album sales grew in the industry, but prerecorded audio purchases slid again in 2022, continuing a trend in the streaming era. Country album sales were down 25%, checking in at 7.1 million. The industry’s album sales dropped 8.2% to 100.1 million. Track sales took a dramatic nosedive — country volume fell 21.1% to 18.8 million units. The overall industry’s track sales deteriorated even more, tumbling 25.1% to 152 million.
Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) claimed the No. 1 position among Top-Selling Country Albums for 2022, repeating her ranking from one year ago behind 228,000 purchases. Cody Johnson’s “ ’Til You Can’t” took Top-Selling Country Digital Song after moving 145,000 units, edging out Hayes’ No. 2 entry, “AA,” by a mere 1,000 purchases.
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield.