Media Release: Artist gender survey revealed in BPI’s Music Market 2015 book, out now


A NEW analysis of music sales by the BPI, the music body that represents the UK’s record labels, reveals that, in 2014, British male solo artists enjoyed their strongest UK sales share in over 15 years.

Details of the gender-based artist analysis, which looked at the top 1,000 best-selling artist albums in the UK going back to 2000, are included in the BPI’s new Music Market 2015 – an in-depth analysis of the year in music, which is out now.

High-profile performers such as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, both double BRITs winners in February, and multiple BRITs nominee George Ezra, helped to ensure that male solo artists took a 38.2 per cent share of sales – nearly four in every ten artist albums purchased in the UK, which was the highest this century.

This follows a strong year in 2013, when they edged ahead of the male group category for the first time, accounting for 36.8 per cent of artist album sales.

Hugely successful bands such as Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Take That and One Direction consistently help the Male Group category take the lion’s share of UK music sales, while – as recently as 2011, and boosted by the phenomenal chart success of Adele and also Rihanna, Jessie J, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – the female solo artist category also outperformed male solo artists.

Ed and Sam have helped to turn this around, however.

In fact, five of the ten biggest-selling artist albums in 2014 were by solo male artists, with Paolo Nutini and Olly Murs also performing strongly.

It’s a trend underlined by the recent successes of James Bay (2015), Sam Smith (2014) and Tom Odell (2013) in claiming the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award following five years of female artist dominance.

Male groups, which last year included iconic Rock act, Pink Floyd, nevertheless accounted for a further four titles in the top ten and also claimed over a third of sales in 2014.

When each gender group’s sales are analysed by nationality the UK achieved its strongest sales share (63.4 per cent) in the male group category and its weakest (39.3 per cent) in the female groups category.

The success of A Perfect Contradiction – the sixth biggest-selling artist album last year – helped Paloma Faith take the title of top selling female solo artist in the 2014 UK albums market, ahead of Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton.

She was one of only nine artists to sell more than half a million albums and the only female to do so.

Haim topped the female group category, all their sales coming from their 2013 release, Days Are Gone, while One Direction achieved a combined total of almost 800,000 sales across their four studio albums to give them pole position in the male group category.

The continued success of London Grammar’s 2013 debut, If You Wait, was enough to give them the edge as top male/female group over Fleetwood Mac’s collected catalogue sales.

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

British acts also claimed one in every seven of the artist albums sold globally (13.7 per cent) and made up five of the world’s top ten best selling artist albums.

BPI’s Gennaro Castaldo comments: “After years of dominance by Rock and Pop groups as well as a more recent spell at the top by female solo artists, the amazing success of male solo artists in 2013 and 2014 led by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra is helping to reshape the music landscape.

“You’d probably have to go back to the days when Robbie and George Michael were regularly topping the Official Charts in the nineties and then further back to the fifties era of the Crooners to find a time when male solo artists so dominated the music scene.”


Music Market 2015 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.

It is available for £85 from the BPI’s shop,


Gennaro Castaldo 020 7803 1326 / 07801 194 139

About the BPI (British Phonographic Industry)

The BPI was formed in 1973 and is the representative voice of the UK recorded music business. As a trade organisation, it promotes recorded music in the UK and worldwide and champions the rights and interests of a broad range of members, including hundreds of independent music labels and companies and the UK’s three major record company groups – Sony Music Entertainment UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK.

In 2014, its members accounted for approximately 90 per cent of all recorded music purchased in the UK – the world’s fourth largest music market – while UK artists were responsible for one in every seven albums sold world-wide.

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