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UK music retail revenues up 3% in 2022, with entertainment at large growing 6.9%

By | Published on Tuesday 10 January 2023

Entertainment Retailers Association

British recorded music retail revenues – so streaming plus download, CD and vinyl sales – were up 3% last year to £1.98 billion. That’s according to the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association, which also reports a 6.9% increase for the wider home entertainment market.

In music – and the wider entertainment sector too – streaming continues to power much of the growth. Subscription income at the music streaming services was up 5% to $1.66 billion last year. That continued growth helped counter a 3.8% dip in physical revenues.

Although within the physical domain, the vinyl revival continues, with vinyl sales now outperforming CD sales in revenue terms, of course. Vinyl was up 11% to £150.5 million, while CDs were down 17.4% to £124 million.

With music retail bringing in £1.98 billion in total last year, the sector is operating at its highest level since 2003, and is slowly returning to the peak of the CD era, which came in 2001 when the sector generated £2.21 billion.

And, if you’re mapping the record industry’s recovery post the difficult decade that was the 2000s, current revenues are nearly double those achieved in 2013, when music retail in the UK was at its lowest ebb.

Of course, in real terms, when pesky inflation is taken into account, there is still quite some way to go before UK music retail revenues really return to the peak of the CD era. Though it’s always worth remembering that – for the record industry itself – the profit margins are higher on digital.

Commenting on the music retail stats for 2022, ERA CEO Kim Bayley says: “We are approaching a watershed. Thanks to the investment and ingenuity of streaming services on the one hand, and to the physical retailers who have driven the vinyl revival on the other, music is within sight of exceeding £2 billion in retail sales value for the first time in more than two decades”.

“Music has to be great to win people’s attention”, she adds, “but it’s the buying and consumption experience which ultimately persuades people to put their hands in their pockets”.

Elsewhere in entertainment retail, video saw the highest growth in 2022, though gaming still brings in the most money overall.

Video revenues – so video streaming plus DVD and Blu-ray sales – were up 14.4% to £4.43 billion. Subscription income from the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and Now TV was up 17.6% to £3.84 billion, meaning such services now account for 87% of the video retail market.

Gaming saw the lowest growth rate of the three strands of home entertainment, but still accounts for 42.1% of the wider sector. Sales were up 2.3% to £4.66 billion.

On games, Bayley notes: “Gaming remains the often-unheralded leader of the entertainment market. While growth at 2.3% was lower than that of video or music, its scale is enormous and in terms of innovation and excitement it continues to set the pace for the entire entertainment sector”.

When you add music and video and gaming together, the wider sector generated nearly £11.1 billion in 2022, 6.9% up on 2021. And 39% up on pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with video growth in particular behind that impressive stat.

Recently appointed ERA Chair Ben Drury says: “Despite pandemic, political uncertainty and recession, entertainment has continued to soar. Growth of nearly 40% since 2019 is extraordinary”.

“Few would have believed we would retain the huge bounce in revenues seen when the COVID lockdown kept people at home”, he adds, “but these numbers show that even amid recession, people are determined to maintain their spending on entertainment”.

“This is a huge vote of confidence in the attractiveness of our members’ offer”, he concludes, “whether they be small independent record shops or global streaming platforms”.

And hurrah for that. Just in case you’re interested, ERA’s end-of-year stats pack also tells us that the biggest releases in each strand of the business last year were Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House’ (music), ‘Top Gun Maverick’ (video) and ‘FIFA 23’ (games).