Streaming boosts UK music industry

Daniel Thomas Financial Times.com 01/01/14

Digital music streaming accounted for about 10 per cent of UK recorded music revenues last year, with more than £100m generated from the 7.4bn songs played over sites such as Spotify and Deezer.

Overall, the British music industry generated about £1bn of revenue in 2013 – only slightly lower than last year – with a resurgence in traditional formats such as vinyl mirroring similar growth in digital streaming services. The figures were compiled by the BPI, the body that represents the British recorded music business, and the Official Charts Company.

The volume of audio streaming services doubled over the past 12 months to 7.4bn songs, but this growth was matched by a similar rise in sales of vinyl albums even if the volume was considerably lower. About 780,000 vinyl albums were sold in 2013.

The same act topped both the streaming and vinyl charts for the year, with Arctic Monkeys becoming the most streamed artists in 2013 while the group’s AM album led vinyl sales.

Overall, the group was dwarfed by the bestselling album of the year by any artist, however, with One Direction’s Midnight Memories beating a list made up mostly of other British acts.

Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive, said: “The success of digital music in 2013 surpassed all previous records – we celebrated the one-billionth track download, counted 4m-selling digital singles, and streamed more than 7bn songs. As digital music moves into the streaming era, the prospects for future growth in the UK music market look strong.”

Digital media became increasingly mainstream during 2013 with the widespread use of tablets and smartphones to download and stream songs and albums. The BPI has included streaming data in the published UK market figures for the first time. It calculated that in 2013 the value of premium-account subscriptions to audio streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer rose to £103m, from £77m in 2012.

The BPI figures do not include revenues from advertising that funds free streams or media websites such as YouTube, which means the level of digital music adoption will be much higher than the official figures. The figures also do not take into account the vast amount of pirated music being listened to in the UK.

About 32.6m albums were officially downloaded in 2013 – a 6.8 per cent increase on 2012 and more than double the level five years ago. Sales of digital singles in 2013 slid to 175.6m, from 183.3m tracks sold last year.

The most downloaded track was “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, followed by Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”. For the fourth year in a row, more than 1m songs were downloaded on Christmas day as people began using their tablet and smartphone presents. The biggest-selling album across all formats was Now That’s What I Call Music 86, which sold 1.1m copies.

However, the report suggests that sales of CDs remain relatively resilient even as consumers embrace alternatives, with the format still accounting for close to two-thirds of sales by volume.

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