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That's Show business: Music Week's Q2 analysis

After the last quarter’s slowdown in growth, music consumption surged again in Q2 as streaming took an ever-tighter grip on the market and The Greatest Showman just kept on selling (and selling, and selling). Music Week crunches the numbers and picks out the key takeaways…MARKET TRENDS It’s supposed to be one step forward, two steps back. But in the music industry, Q1’s growth took the step back, while Q2 enjoyed another great leap forward. So, whereas Album Equivalent Sales “only” grew 4.8% in Q1, they increased by a chunky 7.8% year-on-year in the second quarter, putting the biz solidly on track for another year of significant growth. Aside from a small spike in vinyl’s growth rate (up 10.3% after another bumper Record Store Day, versus Q1’s 4.7% rise), that increase was, once again, entirely fuelled by streaming. And while the growth rate (up 34.9%) continues to gracefully decline now it’s off a much higher base, there’s still every sign that increased competition – with YouTube Music joining the streaming sector behemoths just in time for next quarter’s figures – will continue to grow the streaming market exponentially. “We’re seeing some really good growth coming from Amazon,” says David Hawkes, managing director of Universal Music UK’s commercial division. “All these guys are winning new customers which is really exciting, I don’t think anyone’s cannibalising anyone else, punters are gravitating to their service of choice and YouTube Music will starting bringing some welcome competition to the marketplace as well.” Derek Allen, Warner Music UK’s SVP, commercial, concurs.  “It’s sort of back to the golden days of CD growth, when the players in the market were all competing against each other and growing the market,” he says. “It feels like we’re getting to that stage now with streaming and it helps with new entrants like YouTube. We’re in a really good place.” That CD golden age, however, seems a long time ago. Hell, even last year’s Ed Sheeran and Rag’N’Bone Man-fuelled stability seems like a snapshot of a bygone age, as physical sales endured another quarter of steep decline. Rumours abound of supermarkets cutting shelf space for music and BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor admits that “some retailers may reach a point where they limit their range further than they currently have”, although he stresses there is “still good demand” for physical product. Allen sees the plunge as “more a reflection on the release schedule than something more fundamental in the market”, although he admits that “physical faces a lot of challenges in terms of the way the market’s evolving”. So maybe it’s more like two steps forward, one step back then. Onward! TALENT We could pretend that Q2 was all about the rise of drill music or an indie rock revival, but we would be lying. In fact, Q2 was dominated by the same album that also trampled all over much hipper records in Q1: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Atlantic). It sold another 435,598 copies in the quarter, more than double the No.2 album, George Ezra’s Staying At Tamara’s (Columbia, 210,001). It may have passed the one million mark by the time you read this and it means Derek Allen is searching for new ways to say “phenomenal”. “I’ve worked in this industry a long time,” he says. “And, if you could take the essence of the Showman that’s going to connect with the public, then you’d bottle it and you’d be made for life. These albums only come along once in a generation, and they just connect with people, across all age groups. It’s simply the family release of the year.” Indeed, there have been mutterings within the biz in recent weeks suggesting that Showman is now officially too successful. It’s been No.1 for 21 of 28 weeks, and has prevented everyone from Snow Patrol to Panic! At The Disco to Kanye West from hitting the top spot. So is it stifling new releases? And, given the variety of singers featured on the soundtrack, shouldn’t it be in the compilation chart anyway? “If I take my Warner hat off and put my Official Charts chairman’s hat on,” says Allen, “I’d say that we did discuss this, at length, last year in terms of which albums should appear in the artist album chart and which albums are not artist albums and appear in the compilations chart. There was a very, very healthy debate around where albums of this nature sat and it’s fair to say that there was a split. Half the room were in favour of these albums sitting in the comps chart and a fairly strong part of the room thought they should stay where they are – and this was long before Showman. I’m sure that debate will open up again at some point in the future and it will be interesting to see if this changes people’s views.” “I think we’re comfortable with cast recordings sitting there,” says David Hawkes. “It’s not a concern, you just have to sit back and commend Warner on a fantastic record. Does it stifle? As we’ve seen with Drake and Florence + The Machine, if you release a great record it’s going to do good volume, same with George Ezra. You can still get to No.1, despite the performance of The Greatest Showman. You just have to tip your hat to a fantastic album that’s captured the imagination of the public.” Who knew leading commercial executives were so into hats? Elsewhere, Warner’s Q2 record in general was pretty impressive, with Max Lousada’s major contributing five of the quarter’s Top 10 albums (Showman, Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Cardi B and 2018’s most significant debut yet, Anne-Marie’s Speak Your Mind, which sold 75,198 copies). It also had four of the quarter’s Top 10 singles, plus a share of the period’s No.1, Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa’s One Kiss (Columbia/Warner Bros, 948,922 copies sold) – and 10 of the Top 20 tracks. Harris delivered for Jason Iley’s Sony Music, which had a quiet quarter by its standards, with only George Ezra also making the Top 10, albeit on both the singles and albums charts, and few other big releases to cause a stir. “We’re absolutely delighted with Calvin Harris,” says Charles Wood, Sony UK’s VP of market planning & media, making his quarterly analysis debut in the absence of Peter Leggatt. “Eleven years after his chart debut, eight weeks at No.1 is a great achievement. We’re also really proud of George Ezra, he’s had a really successful comeback. We’ve got plans to take that into Christmas and beyond, just as we did with [debut album] Wanted On Voyage.” The indies had a good quarter with BMG contributing both a Top 10 single and album (Lil Dicky and Kylie Minogue) and Domino chipping in with a Top 10 album (Arctic Monkeys). David Joseph’s Universal, meanwhile, scored three of the Top 10 singles (Ariana Grande and two from Drake) and two of the Top 10 albums in the polar opposite forms of Post Malone’s mega-streamer Beerbongs & Bentleys (Republic) and Snow Patrol’s physical-heavy Wildness (Polydor). “We’ve got a good breadth of repertoire, both UK and international, that’s come out now and that’s going to continue for the rest of the year,” says Hawkes. “Most importantly, Snow Patrol and Post Malone will stick around for the rest of the year. There’s strength in depth on the albums, lots of singles and promotional opportunities to come so we’re expecting a good performance for the rest of the year.” But Yo! Can they bum rush the Showman? MARKET SHARES Here at Music Week’s quarterly analysis HQ (think: The Office, but with fewer amusing dance routines), we have no truck with the line that you can prove anything you like with statistics, except for the truth. But this quarter’s numbers do throw up one statistical anomaly and, as usual, it’s Ed ruddy Sheeran’s fault. Because, despite Warner Music’s dominant chart performance, its market share is actually down across six of Music Week’s seven key metrics (its Track Sales share rose 1.1 points to 21.3%), with Sheeran proving an impossible yardstick to measure up against.  Warner’s Artist Album Sales performance – taking the No.2 position with 19.9%, only down 0.1 points on last year – should be noted but, even with its share of its preferred Artist Albums AES listing dropping to 18.9% (down from 21.4% in Q2 2017), and its All Albums AES share nudging down from 18.8% to 17.8%, Derek Allen can’t be too unhappy. “We always knew that this was going to be a very, very tough year,” says Allen. “At the start of the year the business was keyed-up, knowing that we had to deliver, otherwise we would be facing some very difficult numbers. If you’d said at the beginning of the year that we’d get to half-year only down two percentage points on albums and less than one with tracks, with the year we’d had with Ed, then we would’ve snatched your hand off. We never want to sit back and relax, we always want to do better but we’re quite happy with where we are.” Over at Universal, meanwhile, the stats go the other way. Hawkes notes the market-leader’s quiet Q2 schedule – Drake and Florence arrived to big sales just as the quarter ended – yet the market leader rose on four of the seven measurements, including both AES metrics. It nudged up to 35.3% (from 35.2%) on All Albums AES and put in a powerful Artist Albums AES show to rise 1.2 points to 34.6%. “It’s solid,” says Hawkes. “With a pretty strong Q3 and Q4 ahead that bodes well, our benchmark success is 35% year-to-date and to be ahead of that at halfway, after a very slow start to 2018, means we’re happy and well-positioned.” George Ezra aside, Sony had a quiet quarter also and, unusually, was down on six of the seven metrics, hitting 21.9% on its preferred All Albums AES (down from 23.8% this time last year) and 20.4% (down from 22.6%) on Artist Albums AES, something Charles Wood attributes to the light release schedule. “It was just a quieter time,” he says. “You have highs and you have periods where you’re releasing less, and it just so happened that this was one of them. But if you look at the market; it’s great that we have relatively new, UK-signed artists being successful. Last year our release schedule was strong for the first half of the year, this year it’s probably more biased to the second half.” A big plus, however, was Compilation Albums Sales, where Sony’s share rose 2.7 points to 38.7%. That wasn’t enough to knock Universal (42.8%, down from 44.6%) off top spot but does suggest the Ministry acquisition is starting to bed in. “It was a very strong performance from Ministry,” says Wood. “A couple of weeks ago, we had the Top 3 compilation albums for the first time in three years. Ministry is firing on all cylinders.” Label-wise, it was another fine quarter for Ted Cockle’s Virgin EMI, which held off the challenge of Ben Cook’s Atlantic to top both All Albums (9.7%) and Artist Albums AES (9.7%), steady and up on 2017 respectively, and also pipped David Dollimore’s RCA to the Track Streams crown by 10.3% to 10.1%. RCA did win Track Sales, however, with 10.9%, just ahead of Atlantic’s 10.7%. Atlantic was No.1 on Artist Album Sales, while Nicola Tuer’s Sony Music Commercial Group triumphed in Compilation Albums Sales and All Albums Sales. And that, as Wernham Hogg’s quarterly analysis expert David Brent would say, is a fact.

Charts analysis: Three Lions scores again on Singles Chart

Football, it seems, isn’t coming home – but the wave of patriotic fervour created by England’s progress to the semi-finals was more than enough to trigger massive increases in sales and streaming of their official 1996 European Championship anthem, Three Lions, by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner & The Lightning Seeds, which rockets back to No.1, 22 years after its initial coronation. Jumping 24-1 on sales of 79,779 copies (including 36,410 from sales-equivalent streams), Three Lions thus joins a small elite of recordings that have topped the chart on two entirely separate occasions. Another version of Three Lions was recorded by Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds for the 1998 World Cup campaign, and also reached No.1. It is now bundled with the original digitally, and thus contributes to its renewed success. Incidentally, under a new tweak to chart rules introduced last week, tracks only escape ACR if they are being actively promoted. As Three Lions isn’t, its stream conversion rates are 1:200 for subscription and 1:1200 for ad-supported, both audio and video. Were it being actively promoted, its sales this week would be 116,189.   Also back in the chart on the back of England World Cup fever are Vindaloo (No.41, 13,278 sales) by Fat Les and World In Motion (No.48, 11,490 sales) by EnglandNewOrder, originally No.2 in 1998 and No.1 in 1990, respectively. George Ezra, who selflessly encouraged fans to purchase Three Lions, is the victim of the track’s success, which sees his latest smash, Shotgun, retreat to No.2 after a fortnight at the summit, although its sales are up for the 10th straight week, at 76,253. ‘Starred out’ of the chart between No.7 and No.8 last week, In My Feelings is now the most popular track by Drake, with consumption surging 30.90% to 50,226 units as it debuts at No.4, becoming the seventh hit from his new Scorpion set, and his 75th hit in all. He achieves his maximum entitlement of three hits as primary artist with Don’t Matter To Me (feat. Michael Jackson, 2-5, 49,130 sales) and Nonstop (4-15, 30,878 sales), which means that after debuting at No.5 last week, I’m Upset – now the fifth most consumed Drake track – loses its chart status. Rise does just that for the sixth week in a row to become the fourth Top 10 hit for Londoner Jonas Blue and the first for featured guests Jack & Jack, a Nebraskan duo comprising Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky. The track jumps 11-7 (39,362 sales).  Girls Like You continues to climb for Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B, advancing 10-8 (37,688 sales). The rest of the Top 10: Solo (3-3, 51,654 sales) by Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato, If You’re Over Me (9-6, 45,305 sales) by Years & Years, I Like It (8-9, 37,646 sales) by Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin and 2002 (6-10, 37,204 sales) by Anne-Marie.  Jess Glynne’s former No.1, I’ll Be There, exits the Top 10 after seven weeks, falling 7-13 (33,090 sales).  Aside from Drake’s In My Feelings, the week’s only other Top 75 debuts are Friends (No.66, 7,959 sales) by Raye and Boo’d Up (77-67, 7,920 sales), by Ella Mai. Released in February 2017 but benefiting from the release of a video, Boo’d Up is the first hit for 23-year-old London-born Ella Mai, and was a recent No.6 hit in the US.  There are new peaks for: Youngblood (12-11, 37,103 sales) by 5 Seconds Of Summer, Jackie Chan (17-12, 33,398 sales) by Tiesto & Dzeko feat. Preme & Post Malone, First Time (25-22, 21,444 sales) by M-22 feat. Medina, Taste (27-24, 20,775 sales) by Tyga feat. Offset, Only You (40-28, 19,834 sales) by Cheat Codes feat. Little Mix. Ring Ring (36-29, 19,461 sales) by Jax Jones feat. Mabel & Rich The Kid and Fine Girl (46-38, 13,889 sales) by ZieZie. Also: Panic Room (44-39, 13,416 sales) by Au/Ra & CamelPhat, Ocean (53-42, 13,254 sales) by Martin Garrix feat. Khalid, I Wanna Know (47-46, 12,084 sales) by NOTD feat. Bea Miller, 079me (55-49, 11,412 sales) by B Young, Body (61-51, 11,177 sales) by Loud Luxury feat. Brando, Best Life (74-53, 10,582 sales) by Hardy Caprio feat. One Acen and Let Me Live (69-63, 8,265 sales) by Rudimental & Major Lazer feat. Anne-Marie & Mr Eazi. Despite the fact it is an all-star charity release issued to mark the NHS’ 70th birthday, NHS Voices’ version of The Beatles’ classic With A Little Help From My Friends fails to become the seventh recording of it to make the Top 75, with sales of 5,839 copies earning it a No.89 perch. It fares much better on the paid-for sales rankings where it is No.12 (5,380 sales).  Meanwhile, a picture disc of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine also fails to generate enough overall consumption to make the Top 75 but tops the 7-inch singles chart on sales of 2,788 copies. Along with the 36 vinyl copies that Yellow Submarine has previously sold in the eligibility period, it moves the track up to No.40 on the table of biggest selling 7-inch vinyl singles of the 2010s, in which the top three is Life On Mars? by David Bowie (6,097 sales), All For One by The Stones Roses (5,579 sales) and Love Me Do by The Beatles (4,999 sales). The latter single is not an official EMI one but an opportunistic release on the Rock Melon label made possible by the fact that Love Me Do has fallen out of copyright. No.3 in 2004, Green Day’s American Idiot re-enters at No.25 (20,304 sales) after a Facebook campaign to get it to No.1 to coincide with US president Donald Trump’s UK visit. Never mind American Idiots, there seem to be some British Fools: although the track is 59p if downloaded from the deluxe edition of the album of the same name, some 20% of buyers opted to squander 99p on the identical recording that is available on the regular edition of American Idiot.  Overall singles sales are down 5.12% week-on-week at 14,864,797, 13.06% above same week 2017 sales of 13,147,787. Paid-for sales are down 1.65% week-on-week at 973,232, and are 25.88% below same week 2017 sales of 1,313,038. They are below same-week, previous-year sales for the 258th week in a row.

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