Can superstar artists help maintain UK streaming growth in 2022?

Can superstar artists help maintain UK streaming growth in 2022?

Harry Styles is chasing a fifth week at No.1 as he prepares to release a new album.

Harry’s House (Columbia) drops on May 20 and is one of the key releases for Q2 and beyond. The global superstar’s single As It Was has already amassed OCC sales of 293,789, based largely on 32.7 million audio and video streams.

The forthcoming album from Harry Styles comes at a time of economic fragility with an increasing focus from investors on the performance of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Spotify. Although Spotify did not experience any subscriber drop-off like Netflix in Q1, its shares still plunged to a new low amid concerns about lower growth and the general outlook for the streaming giant.

According to exclusive BPI figures based on Official Charts Company data, Music Week can confirm that, in terms of consumption, the UK streaming market remains in robust health. 

Streaming equivalent albums increased by 10.8% year-on-year to 35,236,726 in Q1. The comparison is with a period in the first three months of 2021 when the UK was in lockdown, which could well have affected the consumption pattern in Q1 last year.

The streaming growth this year has outpaced the performance in 2021, when the market was up 7.6% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2020 (although that was a 53-week year which made a big jump in Q1 2021 harder to achieve).

As well as Harry Styles, there are other big Q2 releases to come including C’Mon You Know (Warner Records) by Liam Gallagher (May 27); Gold Rush Kid (Columbia) by George Ezra (June 10); and Life Is Yours (Warner Records) by Foals (June 17).

Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) CEO Kim Bayley said: “Streaming services have produced the longest sustained growth in music industry revenues in decades and by making music subscriptions a must-buy for many people, they are well-placed to withstand the headwinds in the economy. While the strength of release schedules has little direct impact on the rate of subscription take-up, the incredible line-up of releases in Q2 can certainly do no harm. No sector is immune from broader economic forces, but we remain bullish on the medium- and long-term outlook for music.”

In the early part of the second half of 2022, there are new LPs coming from Lizzo (July 15), Beabadoobee (July 15) and Bob Marley & The Chineke! Orchestra (July 22). 

The latter release is likely to provide further streaming impetus to Bob Marley’s Legend collection (Tuff Gong/UMC), which finished Q1 as the 38th biggest artist album (29,430 sales). Catalogue is a key driver of streaming consumption and made up 60% of the Top 10 artist albums of Q1 this year.

No sector is immune from broader economic forces, but we remain bullish on the medium- and long-term outlook for music

Kim Bayley

As revealed in Music Week’s quarterly sales analysis, Ed Sheeran’s = (Atlantic) was the biggest artist album of Q1 (133,470 sales), followed by Adele’s 30 (Columbia) at No.2 (94,296). The Encanto soundtrack, listed separately on the Q1 compilations rundown, was actually the quarter’s biggest overall album with 152,767 sales.

According to the OCC data, all music consumption based on the Album Equivalent Sales (AES) measure was up 8.1% year-on-year in Q1 at 40,677,767 units. That performance was helped by physical sales holding up strongly with just a 0.1% decline on the prior year quarter. 

Vinyl album sales were up 6.7% year-on-year during Q1 (1,153,134 units), and the format will get a further boost from Record Store Day, which took place in Q2. CD sales declined by just 3.3% in Q1 (2,740,983), but while the format is still well ahead of vinyl in unit terms it is expected to fall behind based on the value comparison during 2022.

According to Music Week analysis of OCC data for the first four weeks of Q2, audio streams increased by 4.1% compared to the same four-week chart period in 2021. That deceleration in the second quarter - so far at least - means that big new releases will be key to delivering a strong overall Q2 performance for DSP consumption in the UK.

It follows BPI analysis that a record number of tracks are now reaching 10 million streams in the UK alone. Based on OCC data again, the BPI found that a new high of 1,776 tracks accumulated at least 10 million audio streams in the UK in 2021. This was up by 10.8% on the year before, while in 2016 just 348 tracks achieved this level of popularity.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “As each year passes, the streaming totals being achieved by even a modest hit are getting higher and higher. The fact that nearly 1,800 tracks generated more than 10 million streams in the UK alone shows that an ever-widening constituency of artists are achieving meaningful success in this market – and this figure can only rise. They include many UK artists who, backed by investment and marketing from their record labels, are attracting enormous audiences for their music right around the world.”

Meanwhile, an Ofcom audio survey has revealed the penetration of UK streaming services. Across its free, premium and trial periods, Spotify comes out on top with 55% of all of those surveyed using the platform. For the 16-24 age group, that figure is 73% (and 50% for the premium service).

According to the survey, Apple Music is on 13% across all of those questioned. The platform has 20% of the 25-34 age group.

Amazon Music has multiple tiers, from free to limited and premium, which has a reach of 34% among those surveyed. Amazon Music Unlimited, the subscription service, has a reach of 9%.

Subscribers can read our 2021 analysis here.


author twitter FOLLOW Andre Paine

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