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Streams double in billion-pound plus year for British record industry

By | Published on Wednesday 1 January 2014


There may not have been any million-selling albums, but the British record industry still managed a £1 billion-plus year in 2013, according to stats published by record label trade body the BPI and the Official Charts Company today. The end-of-year figures also reveal, for the first time, the value of the subscription streaming market in the UK which, the industry bodies reckon, now generates £103 million a year, up from £77 million in 2012.

It’s no secret that the streaming market has being growing rapidly in recent years, and the BPI/OCC say that in 2013 twice as many tracks were streamed overall than in 2012, a massive 7.4 billion. This includes music consumed on both subscription and ad-funded platforms – so Spotify, Deezer, YouTube and Vevo are all included – though revenues generated by the advertising-based services are in addition to the £103 million in subscription sales.

So, a good year for streaming music, though it’s worth remembering that in the digital space more conventional download services do still dominate, even though the number of digital singles sold in 2013 was down on 2012, with 175.6 million tracks downloaded, compared to the record breaking 183.3 million the previous year. But digital album sales were up again, by 6.8%, to 32.6 million units.

And for fans of more traditional revenue streams doing alright, CD sales weren’t too depressing in 2013 either, despite the downsizing of the HMV network and the closure of Amazon’s main online competitor Of course the sales of CDs do continue to decline, by 12.8% in 2013, but the decline has slowed and sales of this format still accounted for 64% of all albums sold during the year, at 60.6 million units.

The vinyl revival, though often exaggerated, did continue in 2013, with sales of seven-inch singles, twelve-inch singles and vinyl LPs up 34%, 60.3% and 100.8% respectively, though overall numbers of units sold are still relatively modest in terms of the wider market.

Commenting on all this, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: “The success of digital music in 2013 surpassed all previous records – we celebrated the one billionth track download, counted four million-selling digital singles, and streamed more than seven billion songs. As digital music moves into the streaming era, the prospects for future growth in the UK music market look strong”.

Meanwhile Kim Bayley, Director General of the Entertainment Retailers’ Association, added: “Retail investment in the future of music reached an all-time high in 2013 as streaming services scaled up their offering. It means UK music fans now have an unprecedented choice of ways to enjoy the music they love – from traditional indie record shops to specialist high street chains, supermarkets and a dizzying array of internet and digital services. As long as labels keep producing hits, our members will be there to deliver them to music fans”.