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UK music sales reached £1.55 billion in 2020

By | Published on Friday 8 January 2021

Entertainment Retailers Association

We already know that music consumption levels were up in the UK last year by 8.2%, but given that – in the streaming domain – consumption and revenue are not necessarily directly linked, what did that mean in terms of money through the till? Well, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association, all that music consumption generated £1.55 billion, a 6.8% increase on 2019.

That’s the retail value of music consumption, ie it includes the retailer or digital platform cut as well as the monies passed on to the music industry itself. Of the £1.55 billion generated, £271.6 million came from physical sales, £72.2 million from downloads and just over £1.2 billion from your streams.

It was the streams that generated most of the growth of course, with streaming income up 15.5% across the year. Download revenues were down 19.5%, while monies generated by physical product sales slipped 14.6%. Though vinyl sales were up, obviously, by 13.3%, so much so that vinyl records now account for 40% of the physical music market.

Physical product sales were hit by the COVID shutdown, of course, which forced high street retailers to close their doors at various points during the year. That likely escalated the ongoing decline in CD sales, which dipped 28%, with those music fans seeking to support their favourite artists or record stores through mail order and home delivery probably boosting vinyl sales more.

For entertainment retail at large – also including video and games – continued growth in digital ensured that the sector was COVID-proof, with the upside of lockdown being consumers wanting and needing more home-based entertainment.

In the video domain, digital revenues grew by 37.7%, aided by the high profile launch of new video-on-demand services that arguably complement as much as they compete with the existing players in the market. With DVD sales still slumping, that meant total video revenues were up 25.6%.

After a wobbly 2019, the gaming sector had a decent 2020, with both physical and digital sales enjoying growth, up 4.6% and 16.3% respectively. Again, lockdown helped with more consumers needing home entertainment, and the year ended with the big boost always delivered by new PlayStation and Xbox consoles arriving on the market (anticipation of those new consoles contributing to the wobbles in 2019).

When all the strands of home entertainment are combined, digital was up 22.8%, physical down 10.7%, and total revenues were just over £9 billion. Digital now accounts for more than 80% of those total revenues.

Commenting on all this, ERA boss Kim Bailey says: “If there was ever a year in which we needed entertainment, it was 2020. The trend towards an increasingly digital entertainment market may be long-established, but no one could have foreseen this dramatic leap as digital services filled the gap left by shuttered cinemas, concert halls and retail stores. With much of the country shut down, ERA’s members provided a welcome revenue stream for thousands of musicians, actors, directors and countless backroom staff”.