Arcade Fire's latest album, Everything Now, is the number one album in the U.S. this week, despite being streamed fewer times than the number two album, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. This is because the band managed to sell more copies than did other artists, whose fans apparently tend to stream music instead of purchasing it outright.
Everything Now was only streamed about 7.8 million times, significantly less than the 46 million times Kendrick Lamar's four-month-old record was streamed last week alone. Billboard’s chart rules dictate that 1,500 song streams equal one unit sold, meaning albums often have to rack up millions of streams in order to chart. And as streaming becomes increasingly dominant, it is uncommon for albums to reach the top of the charts based primarily on “pure” album sales.
Arcade Fire’s relatively small streaming total is the lowest of any number one album since Bon Jovi’s This House Is Not for Sale in November, which reached number one despite earning just 315,000 streams. For all of the band’s handwringing about digital trends changing the way we live in the world, it appears Arcade Fire can still make it work the old-fashioned way.