Media Release: British artists score highest recorded share of global music sales


THE BPI, the trade body which represents the nation’s record labels, can reveal that British artists accounted for an impressive 13.7 per cent share of global music album sales in 2014 – or just over one in every seven albums purchased around the world.

This impressive feat represents an improvement on the 13 per cent share in 2013 and is the highest figure recorded since the BPI has collated the survey data from sources around the world.

The lack of historic data available means that it is not possible to judge whether this represents the highest share ever achieved by British artists, but it represents the strongest performance in recent years

In all, five of the top ten global recording artists of the year were British – One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Sam Smith and Pink Floyd – with the tally increasing to six if the dual nationality AC/DC are included.

However, many other artists also made a significant impact on the world stage in 2014, notably London Grammar in France and Australia, Paloma Faithin Australia, James Blunt in Germany and Arctic Monkeys in North America and other territories.

The Government’s Department of Business (BIS) is a valued supporter of British music exports, including through its Music is GREAT campaign and its vital UKTI funding of the BPI’s Music Exports Growth Scheme2, which was established in September 2013 to help small and medium-sized independent music companies increase their international sales.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Rt. Hon Sajid Javid MP, comments: “The popularity of British music at home and abroad is, appropriately, only going in ‘One Direction’. These record figures are fantastic news and show the enormous demand for UK music all around the world.”

BPI and BRIT Awards chief executive, Geoff Taylor, comments:

“The achievements of UK artists and labels in 2014 were truly outstanding. They dominated sales at home like never before, releasing all of the top ten best-selling artist albums of 2014, while climbing higher than ever in the charts overseas.

”Music is a tremendous exports success story for the UK – all around the world, fans are listening to the records we produce, supporting not only our balance of trade but a positive image for Britain overseas.

“It’s encouraging to have a government that backs British music exports and understands the key role music plays in projecting Britain’s identity as a creative powerhouse.”

The BPI’s Music Market 2015 book highlights the extraordinary success of British artists in 2014, whose share of domestic album sales not only reached a 17-year high (53.5 per cent) but saw them make up the entire top ten of the Official Albums Charts for the year, for the first time since official records began.

According to BPI analysis of data from Nielsen, British music’s share in the USA rose to 12.2 per cent (up from 10.4 per cent in 2013) and in Canada to 15.3 per cent (from 14.2 per cent).

Analysis of other international sales data showed increases in further key markets for British music exports, includingAustralia (22.4 per cent, from 20.5 per cent), Italy (19.8 per cent, from 16.8 per cent) and Sweden (14.0 per cent, from 11.6 per cent).

UK music consumption in 2014

UK recorded music consumption as measured by Album Equivalent Sales (AES)3 proved relatively stable, dipping just 2.1 per cent on 2013 to stand at 117.2m units, as a more pronounced ‘multi-channel’ digital/physical consumption narrative led by streaming appeared to be taking shape.

Streaming doubles as a quarter of adults used a streaming service in 2014

Streaming’s exponential growth continued apace, with double (14.8 billion) the number of plays in 2014 served across audio services, and 73 tracks played more than ten million times (compared with just seven in 2013).

Almost three million different tracks were played at least once, and the average weekly play count for a track at No.1 on the Official Singles Chart was 1.5 million. Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars became the first song to be streamed over 2 million times in one week.

Data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that over a quarter of adults (26.8 per cent) used a dedicated music streaming service such as Spotify, Deezer, Google Play or Rdio at some point in 2014, with around one in 16 adults (6.4 per cent) using the paid tier of one for at least part of the year.

BPI chief executive, Geoff Taylor, adds: “Streaming has the potential to drive significant growth in industry revenues in the coming years provided the right balance is found between advertising-funded free streaming, which presently generates only modest revenues on its own, and migration to full-featured, premium subscription services.

“If this is achieved it should be good news not just for music fans, who will benefit from even more choice in high-quality digital music services, but for future investment by record labels in new music.”

Demand for vinyl reaches a 20-year high, while the rate of decline in CD sales slows

This broadly stable level of music consumption in the UK also appears to reflect, in part, a slow-down in the rate of decline of CD album sales, which, having dropped as much as 19.5 per cent in 2012 and 12.8 per cent in 2013, last year fell by only 7.9 per cent.  Demand for vinyl is enjoying a 20-year high with LP sales reaching the 1.3 million mark in 2014.

BPI chief executive, Geoff Taylor, adds: “The ongoing shift to digital from CD slowed in 2014, which may suggest that record collecting, on LP or CD, may be more resilient than expected as a complement for some fans to the immediacy and convenience of streaming.

“Certainly music fans have never had so much choice as they have now over how, where and when to enjoy the music they love.”

UK sales of compilation albums rise for a third successive year

Compilation albums performed strongly for a third year running, rising by 1.3 per cent to account for over a quarter (25.5 per cent) of all the albums purchased last year.  More than one in three (35.4 per cent) compilation buyers purchased a title from the Now series in 2014, and sales of Now 87, 88 and 89 combined exceeded 2.3 million copies.

The Frozen phenomenon also helped drive the success of the sector, selling just under one million copies (937,000) across the year (10m copies world-wide) and achieving the highest placing on the year-end Official Chart (No.4) for a soundtrack since The Bodyguard in 1993. One factor supporting this trend is the continuing popularity of compilations as gift items, with nearly a third (32.3 per cent) purchased for this purpose according to Kantar’s Worldpanel consumer data.

Music Market 2015 – OUT NOW

The BPI’s Music Market 2015 (formerly the BPI Yearbook) is now available and presents a comprehensive guide to the 2014 recorded music year in numbers, with detailed analysis and commentary on market trends.  It also provides an in-depth look at a host of other indices and metrics, including analysis of industry income, sales by type of music, breakthrough artists, sales by day of week and month, retailer share and consumer demographics. Music Market 2015 is available now for £85 from the BPI’s shop.



Gennaro Castaldo 020 7803 1326 / 07801 194 139


1. Estimate based on 13.7 per cent UK artist global share of artist album sales applied to IFPI worldwide recorded music trade revenues for 2014, with estimated average retailer margin and sales tax added in.

2. To date the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) has made approximately £1.4m investment available to 89 small and medium sized music companies in support of marketing their artists overseas, including the likes of Public Service Broadcasting, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Imogen Heap and Mercury Prize winnersm Young Fathers.

3. Album Equivalent Sales (AES) comprise physical and digital format album sales combined with Track Equivalent Albums (TEA) and Streaming Equivalent Albums (SEA). Track Equivalent Albums takes all singles (over 99 per cent of which are digital downloads) and, using a ratio of ten to one, converts these into an equivalent number of albums for a given period (in this case one year).  By the same token, Streaming Equivalent Albums represent the total number of streams divided by 100 (the ratio used by The Official Charts Company to convert streams into a digital track equivalent when collating the Official Singles chart) and then again by ten to replicate the approximate average number of tracks on an album.

BPI Music Market 2015 key facts and figures

Artist nationality and British success in world markets

* Sales of titles by UK acts made up 53.5 per cent of all domestic albums sold in 2014, a 17-year high.

* UK artists topped the nationality table for singles for a third successive year (43.4 per cent of sales).

* UK artists had a great year globally, with album market shares up in the USA (12.2 per cent, up from 10.4 per cent), Canada (15.3 per cent, from 14.2 per cent), Australia (22.4 per cent, from 20.5 per cent); Italy (19.8 per cent, from 16.8 per cent); and Sweden (14.0 per cent, from 11.6 per cent).

* Sam Smith and One Direction both made the top ten of the year-end Billboard 200 chart – no UK artists did so in 2013.

* Sam Smith was the only artist to sell over one million copies of an album on both sides of the Atlantic.

* UK acts claimed five of the ten biggest-selling albums globally (six if you count AC/DC).

Year-end sales and best sellers

* On an Album Equivalent Sales (AES) basis (where data for album sales, singles and streams is converted to one equal measure) the market in 2014 experienced a 2.1 per cent decrease to stand at 117.2m units (119.7m in 2013).

* Market share by format (based on AES) was: Physical Albums – 48.8 per cent; Digital Albums – 25.3 per cent; Track Equivalent Albums – 13.3 per cent; Streaming Equivalent Albums – 12.6 per cent.

* Industry trade income (i.e. excluding retail margin and VAT) amounted to £699.6m (down 4.1 per cent on 2013).

* Digital now accounts for 52.2 per cent of industry revenue (up from 49.9 per cent).

* Streaming represents 16.5 per cent of industry turnover.

* Album sales were down by 7.6 per cent, but the decline of the CD has slowed (down 19.5 per cent in 2012 and 12.8 per cent in 2013, but only by 7.9 per cent in 2014).

* Digital’s share of album sales fell in 2014 (from 34.7 per cent in 2013 to 34.2 per cent in 2014).

* Ed Sheeran’s X was the top selling album of the year; Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour was No.2 – both sold over 1m copies – no artist album did so in 2013.

* All of the top ten artist albums were by UK acts.

* Pharrell Williams’ Happy topped the combined (i.e. sales and streams together) singles chart, with the UK’s Clean Bandit’s Rather Be at number two.

* The top five tracks all achieved a combined total of over 1m (sales and streams combined).

* Some 14.8bn audio streams were served across services such as Spotify, Deezer, Google Play and Rdio in 2014 – almost double the total recorded in 2013 (7.5bn).

* Clean Bandit’s Rather Be was the most-streamed track of the year, played almost 40m times; streams accounted for over a quarter of its consumption tally.

Music consumption by format

* Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk became the first track to be streamed over 2m times in one week.

* Over 300m audio streams served in each of the last 15 weeks of the year.

* 73 tracks were streamed over 10m times in 2014, compared to just seven in 2013.

* Analysis of the top 15,000 tracks of the year showed that Ed Sheeran was the most-streamed artist of the year, with a 2014 total of over 200m plays.

* Eminem was the second-most streamed (107m) and Sam Smith third (105m).

* Vinyl LP sales attained their highest level (1.3m) since 1995, accounting for 1.5 per cent of the albums market (up from 0.8 per cent in 2013).

* Pink Floyd’s The Endless River was the top selling LP; Arctic Monkeys’ AM (2013’s No.1) was second.

* Rock dominated the vinyl LP market, accounting for three quarters (74.7 per cent) of sales. All of the year-end top ten sellers were Rock titles.

* Nearly half of vinyl LP sales (47.7 per cent) came from newly-released titles, including Royal Blood’s self-titled debut album.

* Now 89 topped the compilations chart, ahead of the Frozen soundtrack.

* Compilation sales were up by 1.3 per cent in 2014.

* Over 4.7m sales of Now titles in 2014; 1 in 3 (35.4 per cent) compilation buyers purchasing at least one.

* Compilations claimed a 25.5 per cent share of the album market.

* Back Catalogue (i.e. released in/before 2012) represented a third (33.7 per cent) of albums purchased in 2014.

* Ellie Goulding’s Halcyon was the top catalogue seller. Kate Bush’s stage comeback saw The Whole Story compilation sell over 100,000 copies.

* Catalogue accounted for 41.3 per cent of digital tracks sold; for streaming, it accounted for over a half (55.8 per cent) of plays.  Passenger’s Let Her Go was the most-streamed catalogue track.

Market metrics

* Average weekly sales for an Official No.1 artist album rose in 2014, to 64,500. The biggest single tally was achieved by Ed Sheeran’s X (214,451) in week 51.

* The weekly streaming chart No.1 was, on average, played almost 1.5m times in 2014.

* There were 24 ‘Breakthrough’ artists in 2014 (acts that sold over 100,000 copies of an album for the first time). Artists on the list included Clean Bandit, The Vamps and Ella Henderson.

Sales by genre

* Pop replaced Rock at the top of the genre share table for albums, boosted by the success of the Ed Sheeran X and Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour albums.

* Country’s share rose to 2.3 per cent (1.7 per cent) with Dolly Parton’s hits CD Blue Smoke a big seller.

* Pop was again dominant in the Singles share table. Dance claimed its highest share of sales since 2006, with big hits from Clean Bandit and Mr Probz.

Music consumers and retail

* 42 per cent of the population purchased music/paid to subscribe to a streaming service across 2014.

* 6.4 per cent of the population subscribed to a paid streaming service for some or all of the year.

* Four in ten people accessed music through a streaming service (free or paid – including YouTube).

* Amazon and iTunes accounted for over half (53.7 per cent) of spend on music to own in 2014.

* Physical-only customers remain dominant though – they made up almost half (47.5 per cent) of all ‘music consumers’ (i.e. anyone who bought or paid to stream music in 2014).

* Women comprise over half (50.8 per cent) of physical-only buyers.

* Men accounted for almost two thirds (63.5 per cent) of new paid streamers in 2014.

* The 25-34 age group provided the greatest percentage of new streaming subscribers (30.8 per cent).

* Gifting remains important to the market – over 61 per cent of music buyers purchased music as a gift in 2014 (including digital gifting), and gifting amounted to over 30 per cent of total music spend.

* Impulse buying continues to comprise a significant share of album purchasing, representing four in every ten (40.3 per cent) copies bought in 2014.  This share rises at supermarkets and specialists, such as HMV, where over half of purchases represent an impulse buy.

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