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Digital booming and set to grow further, says BPI

By | Published on Thursday 7 February 2013


A fifth of British music buyers have now “fully transitioned” to digital music, or so says a new report from UK record label trade body BPI on the digital music market.

The report, which combines research from various sources, presents an optimistic view of where the digital music market is at, while pointing to the pending boom in tablet devices, in-car net connectivity, smart TVs and net-connected home hi-fi systems as all providing great opportunities for further digital growth in the music space.

Relying on data from Kantar Worldpanel, the report reckons that nearly a third of consumers accessed a legit digital music service last year, that over a quarter paid for download or streaming content, and that more or less a fifth had now “fully transitioned” to the digital experience.

This gradual shift of digital consumption into the mainstream means that single-track sales in the UK have increased five-fold in the last decade, with 183.3 million digital singles sold in 2012. Meanwhile 30.5m digital albums were sold in the UK last year and 3.7 billion tracks were streamed.

And people are liking what they see once they go digital, if the BPI report is to be believed. Citing data from EMI’s Music Consumer Insight Team and YouGov, the trade body reckons a quarter of users give their digital services of choice 10/10 and just under three-quarters 7/10, while over 90% of streamers say they are satisfied overall.

Elsewhere in the digital stats fest are the revelations that music fans in Edinburgh are the biggest users of Spotify, 50 million net-connected cars will be sold each year by 2017 (worldwide) and 70% of UK households will own a tablet device by 2016, by which time 44 million people will be on a 4G mobile network. Good times.

Awareness of digital services is also high, the report says, with over 70% of consumers having heard of at least one of the newer audio streaming services, with Spotify and Napster the best known (the latter stat questioning Rhapsody’s logic in phasing out the classic digital music brand).

But enough stats, how about a quote from BPI boss Geoff Taylor? He told CMU: “There has rightly been a lot of focus in the past few weeks on high street music retail. That will continue – we must do all we can to serve music fans who love CDs and vinyl. But as well as great music stores, Britain is blessed with a world-beating array of digital music services, which fans rate very highly for ease of use and value for money”.

He continues: “And this is just the beginning. Labels are striking innovative new deals with mobile networks, hardware manufacturers, app developers and start-ups. The music fan will be the clear winner, as digital services evolve to deliver even richer music experiences via super-fast broadband and 4G to tablets, smart TVs and the next generation of in-car audio”.

The BPI’s latest digital shout-out-loud comes in the week that Apple revealed that 25 billion songs have now been downloaded from iTunes, and Spotify boss Daniel Ek boasted that his service should pay half a billion dollars into the music industry this year.