Streaming surge and vinyl revival fuel rise in UK music consumption

David Bowie

The ongoing surge in audio streaming and steady demand for vinyl LPs have helped the British music industry notch up another successful 12 months, according to official figures.

Data from the Official Charts Company (OCC) and UK labels’ association BPI have shown that 123 million albums, or their equivalent, were either streamed, purchased on physical format, or downloaded by UK music consumers last year.

This represents a 1.5 per cent rise on 2015, which was a 53-week chart year benefitting from an extra week’s trading.

Like-for-like growth in unit volume would, in fact, have been higher at 4 per cent.

The total volume of music consumed in 2016 had an estimated retail value worth approximately £1bn.

Also last year, audio streams recorded a 68 percent rise on 2015, totalling 45 billion, not including video streaming.

The increase in streaming, through platforms such as Spotify, Apple, Deezer and Tidal, represents a jump of 500 percent, when compared to 2013 figures.

This works out at over 1,500 audio streams for each of the UK’s 27 million households.

The figure excludes streams on video platforms such as YouTube, which are not reflected in OCC data.

Elsewhere, vinyl sales passed the three million unit mark in 2016 to hit heights not seen since the early nineties.

Though still niche in terms of its size within the overall recorded music market, vinyl enjoyed another stellar year, with over 3.2 million LPs sold – a 53 percent rise on last year and the highest annual total in a quarter of a century since 1991.

This represents the ninth consecutive year that demand for vinyl – boosted by events such as Record Store Day, expanded retail floor space, and with a new audience among younger fans – has shown growth.

Vinyl LPs now account for nearly 5 percent of the albums market.

The biggest-selling vinyl artist was David Bowie, with five albums posthumously featuring in the top-30 best sellers list, including his Mercury Prize shortlisted Blackstar, which was 2016’s most popular vinyl recording.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI and BRIT Awards, said: ‘Growth in UK music consumption in 2016 was fuelled by the explosive rise in audio streaming, which has increased 500 percent since 2013, and relative resilience from physical formats.

‘Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the nineties, and fans also bought and collected music on CD that they are discovering and enjoying through streaming services in ever larger numbers.

‘We believe this performance is indicative of the promise of a new era for music, where recorded music’s investments in a digital future fuel compelling benefits for fans, artists and the entire music ecosystem.’