UK album sales up by 9.5% as streaming soars in 2017

UK album sales up by 9.5% as streaming soars in 2017

Official figures released by the BPI today (January 3) reveal a surge in album sales of 9.5% over the past 12 months.

The year-on-year increase to 135.1 million albums (or their equivalent) across all formats is the biggest this millennium – you have to go back to 1998 for a more substantial rise, when sales were up by 10%. The strong figures for 2017 also mark a third year of consecutive growth.

Based on Official Charts Company data, the volume of music corresponds to a retail value of around £1.2 billion, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association. The OCC sales stats are based on streaming (using the AES metric), physical sales and downloads.

The strong growth in demand was driven by 68.1 billion audio streams served through Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and other audio streaming services. This represents a 51.5% rise on 2016 and a 1,740% increase since 2012. Streaming now accounts for over half of UK music consumption and the industry recorded a new landmark last month of 1.5 billion audio streams in a week.

The music industry has been increasingly bullish about the return to growth and the latest official figures from the BPI may even exceed expectations. As well as being an impressive overall result for the UK music business, domestic talent was central to the success with eight of the Top 10 best-selling artist albums of 2017 from British acts.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ was the most streamed, physically purchased (on CD and vinyl) and downloaded album of the year. It was the 13th year in a row that a UK artist supplied the year’s bestseller. Sheeran also had the year’s biggest single (Shape Of You) and the Christmas No.1 (Perfect).

Demand for music in the UK is growing fast, driven by brilliant British artists

Geoff Taylor

The BPI also singled out debut UK talent, including Rag’N’Bone Man (the year’s second biggest-selling album), Stormzy (No.10 in sales for 2017), Dua Lipa, J Hus, Loyle Carner and Hyundai Mercury Prize winner Sampha, as well as first-time No.1 albums from Liam Gallagher (the overall No.2 vinyl album of the year), Paloma Faith and Harry Styles. Little Mix, Sam Smith and Michael Ball & Alfie Boe were also strong performers.

Despite the overall trend of decline in compilation album sales, the Official Chart for combined albums featured three Now titles – Now 97, Now 98 and Now 96 – in the overall Top 5.

The vinyl revival delivered a 26.8% increase for 2017 with 4.1 million LPs sold compared to just 205,000 a decade earlier.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “Demand for music in the UK is growing fast, driven by brilliant British artists such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Rag‘N’Bone Man, Little Mix, Stormzy and Dua Lipa and the innovative music industry that supports them. 

“Whilst the rapid growth of streaming and resilient demand for physical formats gives us confidence for the future, it is important to remember that the music industry still has a long way to go to recover fully. Structural challenges must be overcome if long-term growth is to be sustained. First we must continue to fight the value gap, so that all digital platforms pay fairly for their use of music. Second, Government must ensure our musicians are able to tour freely even after we leave the EU. Finally, we should make the UK the best place to invest in new content by forging an online environment that is safe for consumers and where illegal sites cannot flourish. If we do this, the future for British music, which is already one of our leading exports, will be very bright.”   

Vanessa Higgins, CEO Regent St & Gold Bar Records, and an independent label member of the BPI Council, said: “Music is now made and enjoyed in so many ways, and this process is constantly evolving to create ever-greater choice. Smart speakers are just the latest innovation likely to have a transformative effect on digital music consumption and discovery, and how this develops may well be the story of 2018. As an independent label we look forward to continuing advancements in technology that will enable even more, smaller artists to produce new music and find their audience, not least on vinyl.” 

Matt Ingham of independent label Cherry Red Records, added: “The music industry is in a permanent state of transformation. Genuine discovery is coming from the fresh resurgence in vinyl, the robust CD market and via the burgeoning streaming platforms. The combination of new and old technology means the industry can continue to rise to the challenge of providing the public with music to treasure forever.”


1. Ed Sheeran  ÷ (Asylum/Atlantic Records UK/Warner Music)

2. Rag’N’Bone Man Human (Best Laid Plans/Columbia/Columbia Label Group/Sony Music) 

3. Sam Smith The Thrill Of It All (Capitol/Capitol/Universal Music)    

4. Little Mix Glory Days (Syco Music/Syco Music/Sony Music)              

5. Pink Beautiful Trauma (RCA/RCA Label Group/Sony Music)

6. Ed Sheeran X (Asylum/Atlantic Records UK/Warner Music)

7. Michael Ball & Alfie Boe Together Again (Decca/ Universal Music)

8. Drake More Life (Cash Money/Republic Records/Island/Universal Music)   

9. Liam Gallagher As You Were (Warner Bros/Warner Music)

10. Stormzy Gang Signs & Prayer (Merky)

11. Roy Orbison/RPO A Love So Beautiful (Sony Music CG/Sony Music)

12. Motion Picture Cast Recording Moana (Walt Disney/UMC/Universal Music)

13. Take That Wonderland (Polydor/Universal Music)

14. Paloma Faith The Architect (RCA/RCA Label Group/Sony Music)            

15. Taylor Swift Reputation (Virgin EMI/Universal Music)

16. Ed Sheeran + (Asylum/Atlantic Records UK/Warner Music)

17. George Michael Listen Without Prejudice - Vol. 1 (Sony Music CG/Sony Music)

18. Adele 25 (XL Recordings/XL Beggars)

19. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Who Built The Moon? (Sour Mash/Ignition)

20. Eminem Revival (Interscope/Polydor/Universal Music)

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