Media Release: UK record labels’ trade income at five-year high following 5.1 per cent growth in 2016


UK record company trade income (1) – the combined revenues generated through streaming, sales of music across physical and download formats, performance rights, and ‘sync’ music licenced for use in film and TV, games and advertising – rose by just over five per cent (5.1 per cent) in 2016, reports labels’ association, the BPI.

The £44.6 million trade income rise on 2015 was driven largely by the dynamic growth in streaming revenues – a 61 per cent increase which more than offset the decline in income from physical formats and downloads.

It also meant that streaming accounted for 30 per cent of overall label revenues in 2016 (compared to physical at 32 per cent).

Such a rate of growth will undoubtedly see the format overtake physical to become the leading contributor to label revenues in 2017.

Revenue growth was largely experienced in Q2 and Q3, whilst Q4, traditionally the industry’s biggest sales period, grew by only 0.4 per cent, although that compares to Q4 2015 which included the release of Adele’s album, 25.

Whilst the increase in revenues is to be welcomed, there remain a number of structural challenges that inhibit growth, including illegal websites and the ‘value gap’.

The latter term describes the growing mismatch between the huge value that certain digital platforms extract from music or other entertainment and the relatively small amount they return back to the creators concerned.

The UK recorded music industry also faces stronger competition on global streaming platforms and will need to work with government to ensure that, post-Brexit, UK artists retain access to EU markets, and that weak IP regimes are strengthened in key export markets.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI and BRIT Awards, said: “It’s encouraging to see revenues rise significantly, as more and more consumers enjoy the benefits of subscribing to a premium streaming service or rediscover the joys of vinyl.

“Britain’s world-leading music sector has the potential for sustained growth in the years ahead, but this exciting future can only be realised if government makes creative businesses a priority, post-Brexit.

“What does this mean? It means making sure that UK artists can tour freely in EU markets and that UK businesses can access the best talent.

“It means taking firm action against illegal websites that deny artists a living, and it means making clear in UK law that huge online platforms must pay fair royalties for the music they use.

“And it means working with industry to boost exports by promoting strong IP protection in trade negotiations with third countries.

“UK record labels will continue to take huge risks backing emerging British talent and investing hundreds of millions of pounds annually to bring it to a global audience.

“With strong support from government, British music can continue to be a global success.”

Subscriptions fuel streaming growth

Subscription forms the key element of streaming revenues, accounting for 87.1 per cent of the annual market total of £274 million. Income from ad-supported tiers of audio streaming services represents just 3.6 per cent, and video streaming 9.3 per cent.

Consumer uptake of premium subscription services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer continues to rise. For the four-weeks ending 18th December 2016, Kantar research reported that 11 per cent of the UK adult population used a paid-for service, up from nine per cent from the same period in 2015.

This suggests the continued offer of free trials, above-the-line advertising and bundled deals are helping to drive engagement.

Physical formats remain resilient, with vinyl now accounting for nearly five per cent of revenues

While revenue from physical formats dipped below £300 million in 2016, it remained the largest revenue stream for labels, declining by only 1.9 per cent.

Its resilience is testament to the enduring popularity of albums on CD, where income fell by less than a tenth (9.1 per cent), and particularly vinyl, where revenue from LP sales rose an impressive 66.5 per cent.

Vinyl LP now accounts for 15 per cent of physical album turnover and 4.5 per cent of total label revenues. Remarkably, the vinyl market is now worth around half (50 per cent) of the album download market or more than 60 per cent of the value of single track downloads.

Music DVD enjoyed its best year since 2013, boosted by the release of The Beatles’ Eight Days A Week and the Oasis documentary, Supersonic, which between them sold well over 350,000 copies.

Performance rights and ‘sync’ earnings also on the up

Record company earnings from performance rights collected by PPL (2) from the broadcast and public performance of recorded music increased by 1.8 per cent in 2016 from £171 million in 2015 to £174 million.

Over the same period, revenues generated from the licensing of ‘sync’ music (3) for use in film and TV, games and advertising also rose, though by a more modest 0.6 per cent.

Annual trade income 2015 vs 2016 comparison – £’000s – 2015 – 2016 – per cent +/-

Physical albums

£292,379 £284,749 -2.6 per cent


£11,813 £13,626 15.3 per cent


£304,192 £298,375 -1.9 per cent


Single tracks

£89,037 £66,904 -24.9 per cent


£117,532 £83,552 -28.9 per cent

Music video

£1,089 £552 -49.3 per cent


£207,658 £151,008 -27.3 per cent

Streaming *


n/a £238,606 n/a


n/a £9,790 n/a


n/a £25,536 n/a


£170,518 £273,932 60.6 per cent

Other digital content **

£5,613 £6,120 nine per cent

Total digital

£383,789 £431,060 12.3 per cent

Total sales and streams of recorded music

£687,981 £729,436 six per cent

Public performance

£170,591 £173,598 1.8 per cent


£22,683 £22,809 0.6 per cent


£881,255 £925,842 5.1 per cent

* Please see Notes to editors: / ** Mobile personalisation (ringtones), Cloud, other



Gennaro Castaldo +44 (0)207 803 1326 / +44 (0)7801 194 139

Notes to editors:

(1) BPI’s trade income report is based on a survey of its record label members, with Official Charts Company market share data used to account for labels who are not BPI members. The figures are verified against data collected by the IFPI.

The definition of streaming used by the IFPI has changed, and the breakdown now has three component parts – audio subscription, audio ad-supported and video streaming, which gives a clearer understanding of the streaming market.

2016 comparisons with 2015 are only possible for the streaming total and not the component parts due to the definitional changes. Cloud income, which was previously separated, is now included under ‘other digital’ to align with IFPI’s updated International Sales Reporting Guidelines.

(2) PPL licenses recorded music played in public and distributes the fees as royalties to its members.

Founded in 1934, PPL is the UK music industry’s collective management organisation (CMO) for tens of thousands of performers and record companies. We license recorded music in the UK when it is played in public (shops, bars, nightclubs, offices etc.) or broadcast (BBC, commercial radio, commercial TV etc.) and ensure that revenue flows back to our members. These include both independent and major record companies, together with performers ranging from emerging grassroots artists through to established session musicians and influential festival headliners.

For more information please contact: Clive Drew, senior PR officer / 0207 534 1262

(3) The BPI has not previously included revenues from performance rights and ‘synch’ in its trade income updates, but does so now to give a more holistic view of record company income and to align more closely with IFPI reporting. Some additional income, such as revenues generated from ‘360’ arrangements with artists are not included in this report.

About the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) Promoting British Music

The BPI is the record labels’ association that promotes British music and champions the UK’s recorded music sector. Its membership is made up of around 390 independent labels and the UK’s three ‘major’ companies, which collectively account for around 80 per cent of domestic music consumption and one in six artist albums sold worldwide. The BPI certifies the Platinum, Gold and Silver Awards Programme, co-owns the Official Charts, organises The BRIT Awards – which has raised more than £16.8m for music education and wellbeing charities, including the BRIT School – and is home to the Mercury Prize.

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