Happy New Year! UK music biz up in 2016 as BPI's Geoff Taylor hails "new era for music"

Geoff Taylor

This should help the music industry with those Back To Work blues: BPI figures show UK music consumption rose again in 2016.

The biz’s second consecutive year of growth saw the streaming surge and the vinyl revival fuel a 1.5% increase in Album Equivalent Sales (AES) to 123.4 million, according to UK labels association the BPI. That’s even more impressive given that 2015 was a 53-week chart year, while 2016 had only 52 chart weeks – on a like-for-like 52-week basis, growth would have been 4% - in line with 2015's 3.7% increase.

Audio streaming led the way in helping the biz definitively turn the corner, with streams registering its first ever one billion-stream week in December. A total of 44.9bn audio streams took place over the year, up 67.5% on 2015. Streaming now accounts for 36.4% of all UK music consumption.

The vinyl revival also continued, with sales of the format topping the 3 million mark with 3.2m, 52.6% up on 2015 and the highest sales figure since 1991. It was the ninth consecutive year of vinyl growth, with more than 30 titles selling over 10,000 copies each on LP. David Bowie’s Blackstar was the year’s biggest-selling vinyl album and Bowie had four other albums in the Top 30 vinyl albums of the year.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards hailed the figures, saying: “Growth in UK music consumption in 2016 was fuelled by the explosive rise in audio streaming, which has increased 500% since 2013, and relative resilience from physical formats. Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the ‘90s, and fans also bought and collected music on CD that they are discovering and enjoying through streaming services in ever-larger numbers.

“We believe this performance is indicative of the promise of a new era for music, where recorded music’s investments in a digital future fuel compelling benefits for fans, artists and the entire music ecosystem.”

The bad news? Sales of CDs slumped 11.7% in 2015 to 47.3m, track downloads (Track Equivalent Albums) dived 26.2% to 9.8m and digital albums declined a calamitous 29.6% to 18.1m. Streaming has clearly won the digital format war, although physical albums remain the biz’s biggest sector with 41% of music consumption, and almost certainly considerably more of retail value. The BPI estimates that retail value at being around the £1bn mark, although ERA’s figures later in the week should paint a more accurate picture.

As previously reported, Adele was the biggest-selling artist album for the second year in a row, while Now That’s What I Call Music 95 was overall albums champ. Drake’s One Dance, featuring Wizkid and Kyla, was top single.

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