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British rappers take on American counterparts for share of UK music listening

By | Published on Monday 20 April 2020


Record industry trade group the BPI has published its annual big book of stats about the previous year’s recorded music market in the UK. And the headline news is that British rappers saw a big boost in 2019. Which I think we already knew, but hey, now we have stats!

Artists including Stormzy, Dave and AJ Tracey helped to continue a recent upward trend in British rap’s popularity. As a result the rap and hip hop genre in general enjoyed its highest ever levels of consumption share, and British acts are performing better than ever within that genre (even if US acts still score higher overall).

In terms of single track consumption, rap and hip hop as a whole made up 21.5% of total consumption in 2019, up from 20.9% in 2018. That means it is the second most consumed genre after the slightly nebulous category that is pop – a big leap considering that a decade ago, in 1999, it made up just 3.6% of consumption.

Within the rap/hip hop genre, music by British artists now accounts for 42.2% of single track consumption (streams and sales). That number was only 15.5% in 2015. As a result, while US artists Post Malone and Lil Nas X had some of the biggest hits of the year, they were closely challenged by Stormzy, AJ Tracey and Aitch.

BPI figures still distinguish between the single and album markets, using Official Charts Company maths to assess album sales. Perhaps unsurprisingly, rap and hip hop take a smaller overall share of that albums market, with just 10.8%, behind rock with 38% and pop with 27.5%. Although this is still an upwards trend, growing from 1.6% over the last decade. Within the genre itself, British acts make up 26.9% of album consumption.

“From the superfan to the most casual of listeners, music plays an indispensable role in most British lives”, says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. “This seeming near ubiquity is not achieved without constant innovation and relentless record label investment in the next generation of diverse new talent that keeps British music riding high at home and around the world”.

“Through Stormzy, Dave, AJ Tracey and others, UK rap is at a new critical and commercial peak and even though global competition for attention in the streaming age is fierce, artists such as Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Mabel, Rex Orange County and Lewis Capaldi have kept the profile of UK music high with their international chart success”, he goes on.

“This, in turn, builds on the platform for exciting new talent such as BRITs Rising Star Celeste and BRIT Awards nominees Freya Ridings and Aitch to join them”.

Talking up the role music can play during the COVID-19 lockdown, he adds: “Music has a unique power to connect us all, even at a distance, to reduce feelings of isolation, and to cheer our hearts and to soothe our minds. This will be even more valuable in these troubled times”.

If you like numbers – and the BPI’s book has many more – then you can buy it from the BPI website now. Stats! Woo!