Media release: British music records another year of global success


UK artists led by Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man, Sam Smith and classic acts, including The Beatles and Roger Waters, account for 13 per cent of global music consumption in 2017

One in every eight albums purchased worldwide

British artists claim nearly half of all album consumption in the UK and well over a fifth across Europe

Music has become the UK’s international calling card

RECORD labels association, the BPI, can today report another strong year for British music around the world, cementing music’s reputation as Britain’s ‘international calling card’.

Consumption of British music, fuelled by strong demand for albums by Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man, and Sam Smith, among many others, as well as classic acts such as The Beatles and Roger Waters, accounted for 12.9 per cent of all the music purchased or streamed around the world in 2017 according to BPI research.

The BPI has conducted a market analysis of album sales in 11 of the leading 15 music markets of the world, including the big top five – The US, Japan, Germany, the UK and France. These markets account for revenues of $14.0 billion (at trade value), which represents 81 per cent of the global total of $17.3 billion according to IFPI’s recently published Global Music Report 20182

British artists dominate at home but fly the flag in key markets

British artists enjoyed their largest share of music consumption here at home – accounting for just under half (48.2 per cent) of all UK album sales.  But they also thrived across Europe, where they were responsible for well over a fifth (22.1 per cent) of consumption, and in North America, taking up over one in eight album purchases in the US and nearly one in six sales in Canada.  In Australia the figure was an impressive quarter (24.9 per cent) of consumption.

UK artists fared less well in markets such as Japan, South Korea, which are dominated by their own local repertoire. Whilst estimated share in emerging territories such as China and India also remains relatively small, both markets offer huge potential. In the past 12 months, the BPI has partnered with fellow music body, AIM, and with the Department for International Trade (DIT) to host successful trade missions in both countries.

UK artists driving global success

Ed Sheeran’s album Divide was the world’s biggest-selling album according to IFPI figures, topping the charts in much of Europe and across North America, Australia and beyond, as Adele’s 25 did two years ago. Rag’n’Bone Man’s Human and Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All were the fourth and fifth-biggest sellers respectively, whilst Harry Styles’ self-titled solo release topped the weekly charts in the USA, Canada and Australia.

Classic acts remain hugely popular, while new international breakthroughs point to the future

The 50th anniversary reissue of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper was one of the best-performing albums by a UK artist, and the appeal of established acts such as Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones remains undimmed. The international breakthroughs of artists such as Annie-Marie, Jax Jones and Jonas Blue also points to a bright future for UK music overseas.

British music’s global share consistently punches above its weight

The 12.9 per cent share of global consumption is down when measured against the exceptional Adele 25-inspired peak of 2015 (17.1 per cent), but up on 2016 (12.5 per cent) and in line with the trends of the past seven years.

Geoff Taylor, BPI and BRIT Awards chief executive, comments:  “British artists and their music continue to inspire fans all around the world. This country has innovative, risk-taking labels that invest heavily in the best of British talent, promoting home-grown artists to global audiences on fast-growing streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. In 2017, we maintained our exceptional share of the world’s listening, consolidating our position as the second most successful music nation on earth, exporting more music than any country after the US. As Britain begins to chart its new course in international trade, it’s not idle hyperbole to claim that music has truly become Britain’s international calling card.”



Gennaro Castaldo +44 (0)20 7803 1326 / +44 (0)7801 194 139

Darren Kruse +44 (0)20 7803 1300

Notes to editors:

1 The BPI conducted a market analysis of album sales in 11 of the leading 15 music markets of the world, which account for revenues of $14.0 billion (at trade value), representing 81 per cent of the global total of $17.3 billion. To arrive at a share of the world market for UK repertoire, conservative estimates were made for other identifiable territories based on knowledge of international market characteristics. For the rest of the world, which accounts for only 3.5 per cent of global revenues, a share of just five per cent has been ascribed.

The analyses are based on artist album sales, so the estimated share also assumes that artist album share is representative of the singles and compilations markets as well as performance rights. This produces a UK share figure of 12.9 per cent of global music industry revenue, up slightly from 12.5 per cent in 2016 and in line with recent trends though still down on the exceptional high of 2017. The territory where UK acts’ share of sales is the highest is obviously at home, and in 2016 it was measured at 48.2 per cent. If the UK were to be excluded from this analysis then British acts would account for ten per cent of all sales outside of the UK.

2 Figures according to IFPI’s Global Music Report 2018

About the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) –

The BPI champions the UK’s recorded music industry, safeguarding the rights of its members and of the artists, performers and label members of collecting body PPL. The BPI’s membership consists of well over 400 independent labels and the UK’s three ‘majors’, which together account for 85 per cent of legitimate domestic music consumption and one in eight albums sold around the world. The BPI promotes British music overseas through its trade missions and the Music Exports Growth Scheme. It provides insights, training and networking with its free masterclasses, Innovation Hub, Insight Sessions, WidsomWednesdays events, and reports.  The BPI administers The BRIT Certified Awards, co-owns The Official Charts, organises The BRIT Awards and BRITs Week, and is also home to The Mercury Prize.

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