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News January 11, 2016

Reports: US, UK, markets grew in 2015

Senior Journalist, B2B

The strong consumer take-up of streaming services saw both the US and UK markets grow through 2015. In both countries, streaming almost doubled from the year before. In both, the album remained a viable format.

The arrival of The Beatles’ catalogue on December 24, which saw eleven of their albums back in the US charts, will be a significant factor in a greater take-up through 2016. Their wide demographic following will draw non-streamers into the market and make them aware of the many streaming services available.

The US market grew by 15.2% with album sales (physical and digital) to 549.4 million from 476.9 million in 2014. The growth came from the rapid consumer take-up of streaming. According to research and monitoring service Nielsen Music, on-demand audio streaming grew an impressive 83% from 164.5 billion song streams to 317.2 billion (the equivalent of 211.5 million albums). On-demand video streaming registered a 109% growth.

Album sales were 241.4 million units, down from 257 million in 2014. But as Billboard pointed out, if you factor in track equivalent albums and streaming equivalent albums figures, album consumption in the US rose to 549.4 million from 476.9 million, a 15% rise.

CD sales continued to drop, down 10.8% from 140.8 million to 125.6 million. Digital album sales shrunk by 2.9% to 103.3 million from 106.5 million. The vinyl renaissance continued, however, with sales growing by 29.8% from 9.2 to 11.9 million and accounting for nearly 9% of total sales. Digital track sales were down 12.5% to 964.8 million from 1.102 billion.

Biggest selling single was Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars with 5.53 million units. Adele’s 25, which was only released in November, took out top album honours with 7.4 million. Adele accounted for 3% of US album sales in 2015. Most of these were on CD format.

“With a record setting 3.38 million copies sold in the first week (in America), and more than 7.4 million in its first six weeks, the unprecedented sales of Adele’s 25 is the sales story of the year, if not the decade,” said David Bakula, Senior Vice President of Industry Insights.

“While music fans continued to drive dramatic growth in on-demand streaming music, with volume up 93% over 2014, it’s clear that the album is still a viable format for music fans.”

25 was also best seller in Adele’s home country (finding 2.6 million homes in the first six weeks) followed by releases by Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.

The UK market rose 3.5% to a total of £1.1 billion (Australian $2.29 billion) in the last calendar year, according to figures from trade body BPI (British Phonographic Industry). Altogether, 121 million albums were sold in a total of CD, vinyl, downloads and album-equivalent streams. This was a 4% rise from 2014.

Said BPI CEO Geoff Taylor, “The soaring popularity of music streaming and the burgeoning vinyl revival mean that UK music consumption rose again in 2015.

“Services such as Spotify and Apple Music are going mainstream as more people discover how wonderful it is to have all the music in the world to listen to, whenever and wherever you want. Millions of fans also continue to build treasured collections of favourite albums on vinyl, CD or downloads.”

Streaming jumped 82% to 26.8 billion audio streams (from 14.8 billion in 2014) and now represents 22.1% of UK music consumption. The average weekly streams are now 506 million, compared to 284 million in 2014.

Streaming subscription escalated a near-50% to £251 million ($524 million) from £168 million ($350.7 million). Although downloads were down by a worrying 14% to £293 million ($611.79 million), combined with streaming, digital sales account for 54% of total sales.

Also accounting for the UK’s growth was the trend of a slow-down in the decline of CD sales. Compared to the 20% drop in 2012, there was only a 3.9% decline last year to 53 million units. These account for £468 million ($977.1 million) in retail value and still representing 66% of all sales.

After eight years of growth, vinyl hit a new 21-year high of 2.1 million last year, a 64% rise. Vinyl through still represents only 1.73% of the total market. Jointly CD and vinyl sales were worth £515 million ($1 billion).

Also accentuating a strong year for British music was that seven of the UK Top 10 selling albums were by Brit acts. The others were by Jess Glynne, James Bay, Coldplay and George Ezra. Only two, however, were first-release artists.

Figures from the UK Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) showed that combined sales of games, video and music hit a record £6.1 billion ($12.7 billion). ERA pointed out that Adele’s 25 (which we have already stated rapidly moved 2.6 million in the UK) beat out the top selling video game FIFA 16 game, which moved 2.5 million units after its September release, to become the UK’s biggest overall entertainment seller of the year.


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