Royal Wedding & Sheku Kanneh-Mason Boost U.S. Classical Music Sales to Biggest Week of 2018


Plus: Classical digital song sales jump to genre’s biggest week in over a year.

Thanks to the royal wedding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, sales classical music in the U.S. rose to its highest level in 2018.

Led by album and song sales by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who performed at the wedding, total classical music sales (albums and songs combined) rose 38 percent to 129,000 sold in the week ending May 24. That’s the biggest week for classical this year, according to Nielsen Music. The last larger week was posted in the frame ending Dec. 28, 2017, when classical sales — encouraged by Christmas shopping — stood at 163,000.

Here’s a look at some notable classical chart moves courtesy the royal wedding:

Biggest Sales Week for a Traditional Classical Album by an Artist in Over Nine Years: Kanneh-Mason’s Inspiration debuts at No. 13 on Top Album Sales and vaults from No. 14 to No. 1 on the Traditional Classical Albums chart with a little over 9,000 copies sold in the week ending May 24. That’s the largest sales week for any traditional classical album since the Christmas at Downton Abbey compilation moved slightly more (a figure that, when rounded, comes to 9,000) on the Jan. 3, 2015-dated list and the biggest for an artist’s album since The Priests’ self-titled set shifted 18,000 on the Jan. 10, 2009 list.

A ‘Royal’ Debut: On the overall Classical Albums chart (which combines traditional and crossover classical albums), Inspiration re-enters at No. 1. Right below Kanneh-Mason on both the Classical Albums and Traditional Classical Albums charts is The Royal Wedding: The Official Album. The compilation — recorded live during the ceremony — sold 2,000 copies and includes three Kanneh-Mason tracks.

In total, classical albums sold 59,000 copies in the latest tracking week — up 19 percent.

Classical Digital Song Soar to Biggest Week in Over a Year: Thanks largely to the royal wedding and Kanneh-Mason, classical digital song sales rose 61 percent to 70,000 downloads sold in the week ending May 24 — the largest week for classical digital song sales in over a year. Volume the genre last went higher in the week ending Jan. 26, 2017, when classical tracks sold 72,000 downloads.