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UK music retailers blame weak release schedule for 2013 sales decline

Tim Ingham
UK music retailers blame weak release schedule for 2013 sales decline

UK retailers have blamed a decline in both albums and singles sales in 2013 on a “weak” music release schedule.

As reported yesterday, across physical and digital, UK album unit sales declined 6.4% to 94 million last year, while single sales dropped for the first time in recent history by 3.4% to 182.2m.

Annual revenue generated by singles sales was down 1.6% to £167.8m, while the albums market dropped 3.6% to £772.1m.

However, according to BPI/Official Charts Company data, cash generated by premium music streaming subscriptions rocketed by more than 33% to £103m in 2013, around 10% of the UK’s total recorded music haul in the year.

The UK recorded music market’s value was roughly flat year-on-year, down just 0.5% - largely thanks to streaming’s significant contribution making up for some of the albums/singles sales shortfall.

Although that may lead some to conclude that streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer had ‘cannibalised’ sales by tempting consumers away from downloading or buying music in stores, UK retail body ERA believes another factor is to blame.

ERA represents music retailers such as HMV, Rough Trade, Amazon and Tesco as well as streaming platforms Spotify, Deezer, O2 Tracks and Bloom.fm.

It said in its new review of 2013 that the UK’s annual 0.5% decline in music value was “a marked improvement on recent years, but will come as a disappointment to many retailers after a year of significant investment by digital services”.

Commented ERA GM Kim Bayley (pictured): “Music’s performance is primarily due to a weak release schedule, which is particularly disappointing given the huge investment by digital services in music’s future... Retailers will be hoping that labels deliver bigger hits in 2014.”

The best-selling artist album of 2013, One Direction’s Midnight Memories, sold 715,000 copies in its six weeks on the market. The previous year’s biggest-seller, Emeli Sande’s Our Version of Events, sold around double that with 1.4m sales.

The biggest-selling album overall in 2013 was Now That’s What I Call Music 86 which sold 1.2m copies. Its sister titles Now…85 and Now…84 were the second and third biggest-selling albums of the year respectively.

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Tags: ERA, Entertainment Retailers Association

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