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DaBaby and the Beatles Shake Up the Album Chart


Streaming hits dominate the top of the Billboard chart this week, with the North Carolina rapper DaBaby taking No. 1. But the biggest winner may be the Beatles.

“Kirk,” DaBaby’s second LP, with guest spots by Migos, Chance the Rapper and Gucci Mane, opened with the equivalent of 145,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen. Of that total, just 8,000 copies were sold as a full album — the 182 million streams of songs from “Kirk” represented the vast majority of the album’s consumption. Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” another big streaming hit, fell to No. 2 after three weeks at the top.

Yet with each click of a streaming track worth just a fraction of a penny, the real money is in old-fashioned album sales. And there the Beatles have an advantage. A 50th-anniversary reissue of the band’s “Abbey Road” landed at No. 3 — the album’s first time in the Top 10 since 1970 — with the equivalent of 81,000 sales, 70,000 of which were for copies of the full album.

DaBaby, Post Malone and the Beatles’ albums were all released by divisions of the Universal Music Group. But thanks to the Beatles’ success in selling premium-priced physical albums — the four-CD “Super Deluxe Edition” of “Abbey Road” went for $110 — and the band’s undying fame around the world, “Abbey Road” may well end up the most lucrative for Universal.

Last year, another anniversary Beatles release, of the White Album, became Universal’s fourth-biggest seller around the world, beating out far newer titles by Ariana Grande, Post Malone and Imagine Dragons.

The success of the Beatles’ reissues — as well as other recent releases by Tool and Taylor Swift — have put a spotlight on artists who are able to sell lots of CDs and vinyl records even as streaming has taken its place as the dominant music format.

Yet as vinyl sales continue to climb, the CD is dying. Last year, just 70.7 million CDs were sold in the United States — down from a peak of 712 million in 2001, according to Nielsen. Can they go much lower before fading to extinction?

Also on the chart this week, Kevin Gates, a rapper from Baton Rouge, La., opened at No. 4 with “I’m Him,” and Swift’s “Lover” is in fifth place.


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