Taylor Swift continues Billboard reign in first week of 2015

Jan 7 (Reuters) – Taylor Swift continued to shake off the competition into the new year as she topped the weekly U.S. Billboard 200 chart on Wednesday for the eighth time.

Swift’s “1989” sold 172,000 album copies and 718,000 individual song downloads, bringing her total tally to 244,000 units sold for the week ending Jan. 4, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan.

It is the album’s eighth non-consecutive week at the top of the chart.

In the recently revamped Billboard 200 chart guidelines, 10 song sales equal one album unit, and 1,500 album streams equal one album unit.

Swift notably refused to make “1989” available to stream for free on online platforms such as Spotify, but that didn’t stop the record from becoming 2014’s biggest seller, with 3.7 million albums sold.

Streaming music figures did continue to grow significantly in 2014 according to Nielsen’s year-end music report, with 164 billion songs streamed online in the United States, a 54 percent rise from 2013.

No new entries entered the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week as artists usually do not release music in the final week of the year.

Rapper Nicki Minaj’s “The Pinkprint” remained steady at No. 2, tallying 83,600 units this week, while British singer Ed Sheeran’s “X” climbed from No. 7 to No. 3 with 83,400 units.

On the digital songs chart, which measures song downloads, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk!” sold 382,000 units and took the top spot from Swift’s “Blank Space.”

“Blank Space” dropped to No. 2 selling 284,000 copies, while Irish singer-songwriter Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” remained steady at No. 3 with 265,000 copies.