The UK music industry has enjoyed a stellar start to the year, with Album Equivalent Sales for Q1 2017 up 10.7% on the same period last year, according to the Official Charts Company and BPI. And, unsurprisingly, it’s that man Ed Sheeran who has spearheaded said spike by delivering some truly jaw-dropping streaming and sales figures over the past three months.
Compared with Q1 of last year, the first quarter of 2017 saw audio streams surge 55.6%, from 9,718,085,600 to 15,122,154,600. Of course, since the turn of the year, there have been some very key releases in the form of Rag’N’Bone Man’s Human, Take That’s Wonderland and Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer, but a quick glance at Sheeran’s record-busting stats tell you everything you need to know about Q1.
The top selling track of Q1 2016 was Lukas Graham’s 7 Years (856,559) and the most streamed was Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself (40,478,694). Sheeran has roundly trounced both, Shape Of You hitting 1,811,910 million total sales and scoring 120,810,200 streams.
Meanwhile, his album ÷ shifted 1,378,663 in Q1, compared to Adele’s 25 – the top seller of Q1 2016 – which registered sales of 405,895.
Though streaming may have delivered another quarter of growth, physical album sales still took a hit of 4.2% year-on-year, while digital albums plummeted 23.5% for the period.
Vinyl sales did, however, continue to perform well, with sales rising 35.8% on Q1 2016 from 637,056 to 865,285.
“A number of high profile releases, not least from Ed Sheeran and Take That, combined with major album debuts from Rag’N’Bone Man and Stormzy helped shape the market and get 2017 off to a positive start, with Album Equivalent Sales up by more than 10% on the same period in 2016,” said BPI director of research Chris Green. "Showcased to great effect by the BRITs, it was also encouraging that many of these titles were not only heavily streamed, but sold well on physical and download formats to underline the strong multi-channel dynamic of UK music consumption right now. The resilience of CD was again evident through a soft year-on-year decline of just 6%, while vinyl LP continued on its upward path, rising by well over a third.”
You can read exclusive, detailed analysis of the Q1 figures and market shares in full, only in the new issue of Music Week, out today.