Chris Stapleton is officially 2016’s Top Country Artist, according to ranking metrics by Billboard. The year-end chart lists Stapleton ahead of basically all the radio favorites.
Billboard uses several different factors to determine their rankings. For starters, an artist’s performance on the Hot Country Songs chart weighs heavily. That chart includes radio airplay, digital sales and streaming data. Stapleton’s top 10 songs on Spotify all top 5 million streams, including four with more than 16 million streams. Even more impressive, his song “Tennessee Whiskey” tops 50 million plays.
The ranking also factors in Stapleton’s performance on the Top Country Albums chart. He’s been on that chart for a staggering 83 weeks. As in, well on his way to two years on that chart. Just a reminder: his debut album Traveller came out in May 2015. It hasn’t left the chart since.
Final metrics include touring revenue, “Social 50” chart activity and ringtone sales. (Yes, ringtones are still a thing).
The ranking shows just how monstrous Stapleton’s career has been since 2015. And really, since his huge CMA Awards performance in late November 2015. And then, of course, his strong showing at the Grammy’s in February this year.
The rest of the chart features the usual suspects. Blake Shelton comes in at No. 2, followed by Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood. Most of the top artists released new music in late 2014 or early 2015.
The chart goes all the way to 50 if you’re curious to see more. Sturgill Simpson, who received an Album of the Year nomination for the upcoming Grammy Awards, came in at No. 46. Expect a much higher number next year. Similarly, don’t be surprised if Miranda Lambert (currently No. 33) lands near the top next year.