BPI releases official UK recorded music market report for 2016

Official figures released yesterday by UK labels’ association the BPI(1), based on Official Charts Company data, show that the continuing surge in audio streaming and accelerating demand for vinyl LPs helped achieve another successful year for British music.

According to the Album Equivalent Sales (AES) metric, music consumption was up 1.5 per cent to 123 million albums in 2016. 45 billion audio streams were served in the year – an increase of more than two-thirds (68 per cent) on 2015. In December 2016 the UK witnessed its first ever 1 billion audio streams per week milestone. And UK acts accounted for seven of the year’s top-10 best-selling artist albums.

Commenting on the findings, Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, says: “Growth in UK music consumption in 2016 was fuelled by the explosive rise in audio streaming, which has increased 500 per cent since 2013, and relative resilience from physical formats. Led by sales of David Bowie, demand for vinyl jumped to levels not seen since the start of the Nineties, and fans also bought and collected music on CD that they are discovering and enjoying through streaming services in ever larger numbers.

“We believe this performance is indicative of the promise of a new era for music, where recorded music’s investments in a digital future fuel compelling benefits for fans, artists and the entire music ecosystem.”

But Music Business Worldwide(2), founded by Tim Ingham, named one of the world’s 500 Most Influential Britons 2014 – and one of the 20 most influential British music execs – by The Sunday Times and Debrett’s, has questioned the BPI statistics, saying it doesn't make sense to "Pritt-Stick together two incompatible eras of music listening”.

He explains that findings published by the BPI refer to “the trade body’s ‘track/streaming equivalent album’ method – whereby the volume of single-track downloads and streams are backwards-converted into ‘album sales’ via a completely made-up metric.”

Whilst Tim admits that on the surface we are seeing good news from the BPI statistics, he says there are "some serious warning signs” which the British music industry must take into consideration.

"The industry needs to answer three difficult questions," Tim says. "1. When should it give up on the artist album? 2. How can the streaming charts be made more ‘British’? and 3. Is it time to put the Official Singles Chart out of its misery?" adding that the UK music industry “desperately needs a fresh star” to make a major impact on its pop charts in 2017.

Beavis Morgan – business advisers to the UK music industry

Our experts at Beavis Morgan work regularly with businesses and individuals in the entertainment, media and creative industries, including artists and musicians, assisting with their business plans, establishing the market for their product through research, analysing their financial requirements both now and for the future, and putting processes in place to enhance cashflow, leverage tax smart strategies, minimise risk and drive financial success and business performance.

To find out more about how we can assist you and your music industry business, contact Steve Govey.


(1) BPI official UK recorded music market report for 2016

(2) Music Business Worldwide: 3 ominous problems the UK music business must overcome in 2017