Swift No. 1 again as streaming counts

NEW YORK - Taylor Swift has accused Spotify of harming the music industry, but she returned to No. 1 on Wednesday as the benchmark American album chart factored in streaming for the first time.

Swift's 1989 - which last month had the biggest debut of any album in America in 12 years - returned to the top spot on the Billboard 200 for the seven days through Sunday, after slipping for one week.

As part of the chart's biggest revamp since 1991, tracking company Nielsen SoundScan is including streaming in its measurements amid the rapid growth of services - such as Spotify - which allow music fans to listen to unlimited music on demand.

Swift benefited from another change as part of the Billboard 200's revamp - digital downloads of songs, with 10 purchases equivalent to one album sale. She sold 339,000 "album equivalent units" in the week, with 83 per cent of the sales from traditional album sales either in physical or digital format.

Her album also gained ground due to the lack of a new blockbuster debut. British boy band One Direction's Four, which dethroned Swift when it came out, slipped in its second week to, incidentally, No. 4.

New release Shady XV, a compilation double album by Eminem and affiliated rappers, entered at No. 3. Second was a Christmas album by the Texas a cappella group Pentatonix.

The clearest beneficiary of the chart's changes was teenage pop singer Ariana Grande, whose My Everything shot up from No. 39 to No. 7, with a third of equivalent album sales made up of track sales or streaming.

Under the new formula, an artist registers one album sale for every 1,500 streams of songs from that work.

Spotify released its own chart on Wednesday. It said that British singer Ed Sheeran was its most streamed artist this year, with more than 840 million listens so far this year.

Pharrell Williams' viral anthem Happy was the most streamed single song, played more than 260 million times.

Irish singer Hozier was identified as having the most viral track with Take Me To Church. With the popularity of the song, his debut album opened in October at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, which then did not consider streaming.

"Spotify was a big part of getting the music across the world as quickly as it did, and as a new artist...that's invaluable," Hozier said in a video released by Spotify.

Spotify also shed light on the most popular tracks by country. German house DJ Robin Schulz was dominant in Europe, topping playlists in Britain, France, Germany, Ireland and Sweden.

United States pop rockers Maroon 5 enjoyed a strong following in Asian regions where Spotify is present, ranking No. 1 or 2 in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.

Australian hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea's Fancy was No. 1 in both the US and Australia, and No. 2 in New Zealand after Sam Smith's Stay With Me.