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Music Sales Hit New Record High in UK

A report from the Entertainment Retailers Association says spending by UK music fans on streaming services exceeded £1B ($1.31B) for the first time in 2019.

London, UK (January 23, 2020)—A report from the Entertainment Retailers Association this month provided a first glimpse at the state of the recorded music business for the past year. Spending by UK music fans on streaming services exceeded £1B ($1.31B) for the first time in 2019, helping drive total music sales across all formats to £1.41B ($1.84), a record high.

UK consumers spent £92.M ($122M) more on recorded music in 2019 than in 2018, resulting in a 7.1% increase in total music sales over the previous 12 months. The 23.5% increase in music streaming revenue brought record labels a fifth successive year of growth, offsetting a 20% plummet in the sale of physical formats and downloads of singles and albums compared to 2018’s totals.

2018 Wrap-Up: Recorded Music Growth is Strong, but Slower

The recorded music sales figures are just one part of a wider consumer spending report for 2019 released by the ERA, which shows that video revenues rose 9.5% compared to 2018, while sales of games slipped 3.4%. Overall, total physical and digital entertainment spending increased 2.4% to £7.8B ($10.2B) in 2019, marking a seventh successive year of growth.

The £1B spent on music subscriptions with services including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music and Deezer is four times that of five years ago, states the report. That figure also represents a 31-fold increase from the beginning of the decade, when streaming accounted for just £31.5M ($41.2M) in revenue.

Physical sales, which dropped 17% to £318.1M ($416M) from 2018 to 2019, accounted for less than one-third the revenue generated through streaming services. CD sales remain in freefall and now bring in a fraction of the revenue they did at the beginning of the decade, when they accounted for £873M ($1,142M).

Downloads continue to trend sharply downward, slumping by nearly 27% from 2018 to just £89.7M ($117.3M), which is less than half the revenue reported three years previously. Meanwhile, vinyl continued its resurgence, growing 6.4% and generating £97.1M ($127M) in 2019.

The year’s top-selling album was Lewis Capaldi’s debut, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, which sold 641,000 copies. Ed Sheeran’s No 6 Collaborations Project was second, with sales of 568,110. In third place, the motion picture cast recording of The Greatest Showman racked up sales of 523,844 copies. The top 10 bestselling albums also included Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? and Ariana Grande’s thank u, next.

According to a statement from ERA CEO Kim Bayle, “The rise of digital entertainment services has created the biggest revolution in UK leisure habits in history, enabling people to access the music, video and games they love wherever and whenever they want, and transforming the fortunes of record labels, filmmakers and games developers. The fact that in 2019 over 80% of entertainment spending was on digital services shows the scale of that revolution.”

Entertainment Retailers Association •