The IFPI has named Taylor Swift its World Recording Artist of the Year for 2022.

That’s lovely, especially considering that it includes a fancy trophy (pictured). But putting it into business terms helps to place things in perspective, which is crucial. Let us elaborate.

The 20 artists who will comprise the IFPI Global Recording Artist Chart for 2022 have been announced as of today (February 22), with Swift at the summit.

This rating is “the only [global] ranking that correctly measures consumption across all formats (including streaming formats, digital and physical album and singles sales) and all countries,” according to IFPI.

The most important sentence follows: “It is weighted based on the relative value of each way of consumption.”

The artists who made the most money last year across streaming, download, and physical record sales (combined) are revealed in sequence in the IFPI’s Top 20 list, which you can view in full below.

Here it is:

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. BTS
  3. Drake
  4. Bad Bunny
  5. The Weeknd
  7. Stray Kids
  8. Harry Styles
  9. Jay Chou
  10. Ed Sheeran
  11. Eminem
  12. Kanye West
  13. YoungBoy Never Broke Again
  14. Kendrick Lamar
  15. Lil Baby
  16. Billie Eilish
  17. Post Malone
  18. Juice WRLD
  19. The Beatles
  20. Imagine Dragons

Taylor Swift undoubtedly had a successful year.

Her Midnights sold more than 6 million album equivalents worldwide in just three months of 2022 after its release on October 21, according to a press statement from Universal Music Group that was released on December 22.

The top albums of 2022 didn’t surpass Midnights in the greatest market in the world, though.

According to Luminate statistics, Midnights’ US on-demand audio streams in 2022 totaled 1.791 billion plays, trailing albums by Harry Styles (1.836 billion), Morgan Wallen (2.915 billion), and The Weeknd (The Highlights), among others (2.366 billion).

Un Verano Sin Ti by Bad Bunny was far and away the most streamed song in the US last year with 4.266 billion on-demand audio plays, more than double the play-count of Midnights (see below).

Why then does Bad Bunny rank No. 4 on the IFPI’s list of the top worldwide artists in terms of revenue, trailing only Drake, BTS, and Swift?

There are a few clear-cut reasons:

All three of the aforementioned Top 3 artists have a sizable body of work that has appeared on mainstream music charts globally (especially in the US) over the past ten years. Thus, only their most recent releases would have been elevated by the enormous amount of their back catalogs (and catalog listening) on streaming services. For instance, Swift’s ninth US No. 1 record, Midnights, is her tenth studio album overall. Un Verano Sin Ti, by comparison, is only the Puerto Rican musician’s second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart and third Top 3. One eye-popping statistic: As of 2022, the combined global calendar-year streams of Taylor Swift’s catalog had reached a staggering 36.6 billion plays, according to the Universal Music Group statement made on December 22 of last year.

Always keep in mind that the IFPI list is based on “value,” or income from both retail and streaming services. Midnights by Taylor Swift performed remarkably well in terms of physical record sales. According to Luminate, the album sold over 1.8 million copies in the US last year (i.e., actual sales across download and physical), with 640,000 of those sales coming from CDs, 219,000 from downloads, and an astounding 945,000 from vinyl. Since 2015, it was the first record to sell over a million physical copies in the US.

China is one particular, enormous global market that Taylor Swift had greater and better success in than ever before. China has historically been difficult for non-domestic musicians to break into. The fastest-selling album by a “western” artist in the region, according to Universal, was Midnights.

Four of the Top 10 biggest acts worldwide in 2022 were Asian artists, which is another very intriguing trend highlighted in the IFPI’s new artist chart.

Three of them were boy bands from South Korea, the nation with the most performers in the Top 10 of the IFPI.

SEVENTEEN (a boy band founded by Pledis Entertainment), Stray Kids, and BTS are other Korean artists on the list, which comes in at No. 6 and No. 2 respectively (another boy-band, who were formed by JYP Entertainment via a televised competition in 2017).

Jay Chou, a Taiwanese music star who has enduring appeal in China and South-East Asia, is the other artist from Asia to make the IFPI Top 10 for 2022 (No. 9).

Harry Styles, at No. 8, and Ed Sheeran, at No. 10, were the two British performers in the Top 10.

(Returning to the significance of a large and well-liked streaming library on this list… Despite not having a new studio record out in 2022, Ed Sheeran still placed in the top 10.)

It gives me great pleasure to present Taylor Swift with the IFPI Global Recording Artist Award for an unprecedented third time in the chart’s ten-year existence, said Frances Moore, Chief Executive of the IFPI.

“Taylor is a genuinely magnificent international star who maintains a very close bond with her fans all over the world while continuing to develop as an artist.

The fact that this year’s Global Recording Artist Chart includes superstars from Latin America, Taiwan, and South Korea in addition to the US, UK, and Canada is exciting because it illustrates the increasingly varied range of music that fans can now access.

“Record companies continue to work hard in every region of the world to identify and nurture international talents and establish their prosperous careers for the long-term.”


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