Streaming surge & vinyl revival fuel continuing rise in UK music consumption in 2016
  • Music consumption up 1.5% to 123 million albums (AES).
  • 45 billion audio streams served in 2016 – an increase of more than two-thirds (68%) on last year.
  • December 2016 witnesses first-ever 1 billion audio streams week milestone.
  • Vinyl sales led by David Bowie rise 53% to top 3.2 million unit mark – the most LPs sold since 1991.
  • UK acts account for 7 of the year’s top-10 best-selling artist albums.
  • Adele’s 25 is again year’s best-selling artist album; 12th year in a row best-seller has come from UK.
  • Michael Ball/Alfie Boe Together is 2016’s best-selling new artist release, with Now 95 No.1 overall.
  • Other UK acts show strongly incl. Coldplay, Little Mix, The 1975, Rick Astley, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne and The Rolling Stones. Skepta’s success suggests grime is becoming a commercial force.
  • Drake’s One Dance is year’s biggest single – accumulating over 141 million audio streams – while Clean Bandit’s Christmas No.1 Rockabye enjoys longest chart-topping run for a UK act since 2007.

Official figures released yesterday by UK labels’ association the BPI, based on Official Charts Company data, show that the continuing surge in audio streaming and accelerating demand for vinyl LPs helped achieve another successful year for British music.

Using the music industry’s standard Album Equivalent Sales (AES) metric to calculate the overall volume of music consumption, a total of 123 million albums or their equivalent were either streamed, purchased on physical format, or downloaded by UK music consumers in 2016.  This represents a 1.5 per cent rise on 2015, which, it should be noted, was a ‘53 week’ chart year benefitting from an extra week’s trading.  Like-for-like growth in unit volume would, in fact, have been higher at 4 per cent.  The total volume of music consumed in 2016 corresponds to an estimated retail value expected to be worth approximately £1 billion.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards said: “Growth in UK music consumption in 2016 was fuelled by the explosive rise in audio streaming, which has increased 500 per cent since 2013, and relative resilience from physical formats. Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the Nineties, and fans also bought and collected music on CD that they are discovering and enjoying through streaming services in ever larger numbers.

“We believe this performance is indicative of the promise of a new era for music, where recorded music’s investments in a digital future fuel compelling benefits for fans, artists and the entire music ecosystem.”

Volume of audio streaming surges and hits milestone of 1 billion streams in a week

Demand in 2016 was fuelled by a staggering 45 billion audio streams served through digital services including Spotify, Apple, Deezer and Tidal – a 68 per cent rise on 2015 and an increase of 500 per cent if you go back to 2013. Such a volume works out at well over 1,500 audio streams for each of the UK’s 27 million households.  Remarkably this figure excludes the huge number of streams on video platforms such as YouTube, which are not reflected in Official Charts data – otherwise this total would be greater.

Underlining the growing ascendancy of streams as the format of choice for many fans, December 2016 witnessed the key milestone of 1 billion audio streams taking place for the first time in a single week. To set this growth in context, weekly streams totalled less than 200 million at the start of 2014.  As a result of this dramatic increase, audio streaming now accounts for well over a third (36.4 per cent) of all UK music consumption.

Vinyl goes through 3 million unit mark and hits heights not seen since the start of the Nineties

Though still niche in terms of its size within the overall recorded music market, vinyl enjoyed another stellar year, with over 3.2 million LPs sold – a 53 per cent rise on last year and the highest annual total in a quarter of a century since 1991, when Simply Red’s Stars topped the annual best-seller charts.  This represents the ninth consecutive year that demand for vinyl – boosted by events such as Record Store Day, expanded retail floor-space, and with a new audience among younger fans – has shown growth.  A far cry from the low-point of 2007, when just over 200,000 LPs were purchased.  The depth of the vinyl revival is illustrated by the fact that over 30 titles sold more than 10,000 copies in 2016, compared to just 10 in 2015. Vinyl LPs now account for nearly 5 per cent of the albums market.

The biggest-selling vinyl artist was David Bowie, with 5 albums posthumously featuring in the top-30 best-sellers, including his Mercury Prize shortlisted Blackstar, which was 2016’s most popular vinyl recording ahead of Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, selling more than double the number of copies of 2015’s best seller on vinyl – Adele’s 25.

Enduring ‘multi-channel’ appeal of physical formats

The demand for vinyl illustrates the enduring appeal of music on physical formats, particularly in a multi-channel world where some consumers like to discover and enjoy new music and established repertoire through streaming, but are also tempted to buy, own and collect the recordings they love on LP and on CD.

Sales of CDs declined by over a tenth in 2016 (-11.7 per cent).  However, the format remains relatively resilient with many consumers who continue to be drawn to its collectible appeal or regard it as a desirable gift item, particularly when presented in deluxe box-set packaging.  Combined with vinyl LP, CD and physical formats still account for just over 41 per cent of UK music consumption in volume terms.

Vanessa Higgins, CEO Regent Street and Gold Bar Records, and an independent label member of BPI Council , said: “Fans are listening to music in so many ways now – we’ve definitely entered a multi-channel era. Millennials, who’ve grown up digital, are increasingly choosing to experience both current and heritage artists on vinyl also. Meanwhile older baby-boomers are embracing streaming alongside their record collections. And, impressively, in between all that, there is still more than enough space for the CD, which remains popular both with upcoming artists, who need an attractive physical product, and consumers, who still like to gift, collect and own the recordings they love.”

Downloads yield to streaming as their share of digital decreases

Downloaded albums and singles continued their downward trend as streaming takes over as the main digital platform, and they now account for just over a fifth (22.6 per cent) of music consumption volume in the UK.

Adele and Coldplay lead UK domination of artist charts, but Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, Little Mix, Jess Glynne, Calvin Harris, Rick Astley, Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones & The 1975 also enjoy strong years

Although there were no new album releases from a number of artists who have been more or less ‘ever-present’ in recent best-seller lists, most notably the likes of Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Paloma Faith, there were plenty of blockbuster successes that boosted the market.

British acts that struck a particular chord included Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, whose duets album Together was the year’s best-selling new release artist album and the Official Christmas No.1 album. Little Mix and Olly Murs enjoyed Platinum9 certified albums that also sold well on CD, while The 1975 topped both the UK and US charts. BRITs Icon Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones, and a well-received comeback LP from Rick Astley also featured in the top-20.

Global best-selling new releases from Drake – who was also the year’s most streamed artist – Beyoncé, Michael Bublé and Sia also helped to propel the market in 2016, while a further boost came from the continuing success of titles released in 2015, not least Adele’s 25, which was the UK’s best-selling artist album for the second year running, and has now sold a total of 3.2 million copies in the UK.  Adele’s success in claiming the top spot means that it is now 12 years in a row that the year’s best-selling artist album has come from a British act.

Justin Bieber’s high profile tour helped to drive continuing demand for Purpose – the UK’s most streamed album of 2016 – while Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams became a UK million-seller. Jess Glynne’s I Cry When I Laugh is also well on its way to achieving million-selling status at home, and James Bay’s Chaos and the Calm is additionally now well past 2x Platinum status.

Rock was well represented on the Official Albums chart, with Biffy Clyro, Green Day and Blink 182 enjoying No.1s, as did Radiohead, Catfish & The Bottlemen and one of the breakout acts of the year, Blossoms.

Sadly the music world lost a number of its most iconic figures in 2016, most notably including David Bowie, Prince, Sir George Martin, Leonard Cohen and, just recently, George Michael. The resulting public response prompted an increase in demand for their work, though, being a new release, there is little doubt Bowie’s Blackstar would have sold in large volumes in any event.

The success of Skepta’s Mercury Prize-winning Konnichiwa, which has been certified Gold by the BPI having sold well over 100,000 copies since its release in May 2016, demonstrates that grime is now fast becoming a commercial force to rank alongside the cultural impact it has enjoyed over the past decade. A trend that is further illustrated by the certified awards status earned by the singles Shut Up and Know Me From released by Stormzy, whose debut album is one of the most anticipated for 2017.

Other music genres are also breaking through commercially, including British country music. This was amply demonstrated by the success of twin sister duo Ward Thomas, which became the first ever UK country act to score a UK No.1 album with Cartwheels, while another UK country act, The Shires, saw their album My Universe become the fastest-selling country album by a UK artist when reaching No.3 in the Official Charts.

Now 95 is 2016’s best-selling album title overall, as Now compilations enjoy 3 albums in the year’s top-5

The year’s best-selling album overall, however, was Now That’s What I Call Music 95, which is now well on its way to achieving 3x Platinum status, while both Now 93 and Now 94 also made 2016’s top-5 as 2x Platinum certified titles.

Drake’s One Dance dominates singles charts, with Britain’s Calvin Harris also in year’s top 5 & Clean Bandit enjoying longest No.1 run by a UK act in 9 years

North American artists – most notably Drake, whose One Dance ft. Wizkid & Kyla was No.1 for a remarkable 15 weeks and accumulated over 141 million audio streams – dominated the singles best-seller lists for the first part of the year.  Britain’s Calvin Harris’s This is What You Came For ft. Rihanna claimed a place in the year’s top-5 most streamed tracks overall, while late 2016 saw a run of UK No.1 successes. James Arthur, Little Mix and Clean Bandit all topped the Official Singles Chart in the final quarter of 2016, with the latter’s Rockabye claiming the Official Christmas No.1 on its way to achieving the longest consecutive stay at No.1 (eight weeks and counting) for a UK artist since Leona Lewis with Bleeding Love in 2007.

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