Who’s the best music artist in the world? That’s a subjective question capable of sparking any number of pub arguments and Twitter dust-ups. Who’s the most popular music artist? This, at least, is something you can calculate with hard numbers.
The IFPI does exactly that with its annual Global Recording Artist of the Year award, using data on streams and sales. Now those calculations have crowned K-Pop stars BTS as the top artist of 2021, making them the first act to win the award two years in a row.
BTS topped the chart ahead of Taylor Swift, Adele, Drake and Ed Sheeran. The Weeknd, Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber also featured, with Seventeen and Olivia Rodrigo completing the top 10.
Note the inclusion of Seventeen, another K-Pop artist, representing the continued global growth of music from South Korea. It’s their first appearance in the IFPI’s chart.
It’s no surprise to see BTS taking the top spot again. 2021 saw their English-language single ‘Butter’ topping charts across the world, with ‘Permission to Dance’ also a global hit. The group also released their ‘My Universe’ collaboration with Coldplay, and even managed to top Japan’s year-end album chart with a Japanese-language best-of compilation.
That success was reflected in the recent financial results of HYBE, the label / management company to which BTS are signed. Its revenues grew by 58% in 2021, including strong growth for album sales, merchandising and licensing, and concerts.
BTS are the first act to win the IFPI’s global artist gong two years in a row, but other non-consecutive two-time winners include Taylor Swift (2014 and 2019) and Drake (2016 and 2018).
Today’s announcement is part of a series of annual rankings announced by the IFPI. Next up is the Global Digital Single of the year chart, due to be published on 28 February, followed by the Global Album All-Format chart on 1 March.