UK mu­sic pur­chases hit high­est level since 2006


RITISH fans bought or streamed the equiv­a­lent of more than 150m al­bums last year as mu­sic con­sump­tion in the UK hit its high­est level since 2006, driven by the suc­cess of artists in­clud­ing Lewis ca­paldi, bil­lie eil­ish and Ariana Grande.

Ac­cord­ing to The Guardian, across all for­mats – in­clud­ing dig­i­tal down­loads and streams from sub­scrip­tion ser­vices as well as cds, vinyl and cas­settes – mu­sic fans pur­chased or streamed the equiv­a­lent of 154m al­bums in 2019.

This is the most since mu­sic con­sump­tion hit the equiv­a­lent of 161.4m al­bums in 2006.

Lewis ca­paldi was the most streamed artist of the year, with his al­bum Di­vinely Unin­spired to a Hellish ex­tent and the sin­gle Some­one You Loved top­ping the charts.

In 2006 the best­selling al­bum was Snow Pa­trol’s eyes open, and Gnarls barkley’s crazy was the top sell­ing sin­gle.

The an­nual re­port from the mu­sic in­dus­try body the BPI high­lights the ex­tent to which the rise of le­gal stream­ing ser­vices from Spo­tify and Ap­ple to Ama­zon and Deezer con­tinue to be the sal­va­tion of artists. Sales of the once mighty CD plum­meted 26.5 per cent to 23.5m last year, less than half the num­ber sold just three years ago, to ac­count for just 15 per cent of the to­tal.

Mean­while the equiv­a­lent of 114m al­bums of mu­sic were streamed this year, an up­lift of more than a quar­ter com­pared with 2018, as con­sumer habits con­tinue to drive the mu­sic in­dus­try from a phys­i­cal to a dig­i­tal lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mu­sic fans lis­tened to a record 114bn tracks on stream­ing ser­vices last year, with ev­ery 1,000 tracks streamed con­sid­ered to be the equiv­a­lent of one real-world al­bum sale.

Stream­ing ac­counted for three-quar­ters of all al­bum equiv­a­lent sales in the UK last year, up from less than a quar­ter four years ago – with phys­i­cal al­bums still ac­count­ing for the ma­jor­ity of sales.

How­ever, the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion has not wiped out tra­di­tional mu­sic lis­ten­ing al­to­gether, due to a re­vival in pop­u­lar­ity of the old­est for­mats. Vinyl sales hit 4.3m in 2019, the 12th con­sec­u­tive year of growth, as the pop­u­lar­ity of the record reached lev­els not seen since the 1980s. Liam Gal­lagher’s Why Me? Why Not was the most suc­cess­ful vinyl al­bum of the year.

John Lewis said the vinyl re­vival had helped turnta­bles be­come a pop­u­lar christ­mas gift with a 400 per cent in­crease in sales be­tween Novem­ber and De­cem­ber. The re­tailer, which sells a range of mod­els from brands in­clud­ing Au­dio Tech­nica, Sony and Ion Max priced from £69 to £179, said it has seen a 25 per cent in­crease in sales of turnta­bles over the past three years.

The vinyl re­vival has also rubbed off on the cas­sette, which by 2012 had all but dis­ap­peared save for use by po­lice for tap­ing in­ter­views. While cas­sette sales re­main tiny at 80,400, they al­most dou­bled year-on-year, en­joy­ing their big­gest year of sales since 2004.

cas­sette sales have grown in each of the last seven years. Rob­bie Wil­liams’s fes­tive sea­son re­lease, The christ­mas Present, has be­come the fastest-sell­ing cas­sette al­bum since com­pi­la­tion Now 52 in July 2002.

“It is won­der­ful to see the con­tin­ued growth of vinyl and the res­ur­rec­tion of the cas­sette,” said Vanessa Hig­gins, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the in­de­pen­dent la­bel Re­gent Street Records. “It shows fans still love a phys­i­cal, tan­gi­ble mu­sic arte­fact in their hands.”

While over­all cd sales con­tinue to plum­met, the de­sire for a col­lectible prod­uct con­tin­ues to fuel strong sales of pre­mi­umqual­ity spe­cial edi­tions and box sets.

Last year, Queen’s Plat­inum col­lec­tion sold well over 100,000 copies on cd, a timely re­lease which re­ceived a sales boost thanks to the Academy Award-win­ning biopic Bo­hemian Rhap­sody. Deluxe an­niver­sary re­leases of Fleet­wood Mac and the bea­tles col­lec­tions also sold well.

“bri­tish mu­sic proved once again in 2019 that it has a bright fu­ture,” said Ge­off Tay­lor, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the BPI and an­nual Brit awards. “Strong de­mand for stream­ing mu­sic and vinyl boosted mu­sic con­sump­tion to lev­els not seen for 13 years.”

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