David Bowie revealed as the UK's most popular recording artist of 2016

David Bowie revealed as the UK's most popular recording artist of 2016

David Bowie was the UK's most popular recording artist in 2016, according to the BPI's latest yearbook.

Published today, All About The Music 2017 offers a detailed insight into the year in recorded music. Using the Album Equivalent Sales (AES) metric, the BPI has calculated that more than 1.6 million Bowie albums or their equivalent were either purchased on CD and vinyl, downloaded or streamed in the UK last year.

Demand for Bowie’s music in the wake of his death last January and the release of his final album, Blackstar, contributed to him coming in ahead of Adele, whose combined recordings generated 1.2m Album Equivalent Sales, Drake, Little Mix and Coldplay, as UK acts took up four of the top five slots. The yearbook also reveals that The Killers’ Mr Brightside was the most-streamed track of any song released prior to 2010.

“This is an exciting time for British music as more fans enjoy today’s new artists and also explore the infinite jukebox available on streaming services," said Geoff Taylor, BPI and BRIT Awards CEO. "Consumption and revenues are on the up, powered by investment and innovation that is driving streaming subscriptions, whilst recordings on vinyl and CD continue to demonstrate their enduring appeal.

"The UK punches above its weight as the world’s third largest market, responsible for one in eight albums sold globally, including four of 2016’s Top 10, and is the second-largest digital and streaming market after the US. But for this success to translate into long-term growth, key issues must be overcome. Brexit risks new EU barriers for UK acts, who also face stiff competition from overseas artists on global streaming platforms. And revenue growth is still undermined by UGC platforms using music without paying fairly for it and the absence of proper IP protection in many export markets.

“Our business will only reach its full potential if government makes the creative sector a high priority in trade negotiations and offers the same kind of support to investment into music, such as through tax credits, as it has to the film and games industries.“

Covering everything from the size, value and make-up of the UK market in 2016 to the impact that streaming and the vinyl revival are having on music consumption and consumer trends, All About The Music 2017 is the 38th edition of the yearbook. 

It also reveals that the 100 most-streamed tracks of 2016 were each played over 25 million times. Most popular was Drake’s One Dance (142m) and the highest-streamed UK artist was Calvin Harris in fifth spot, whose track This is What you Came For, featuring Rihanna, was streamed 83m times. For the first time in five years US artists outperformed home-grown acts in the UK singles market.

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