Fueled by a rise in digital and streaming revenues, music sales in the United Kingdom grew by 1.9% in 2013, according to the latest figures from U.K. labels trade body the BPI.
Recorded music sales in the U.K. totaled £730.4 million ($1.23 billion) last year, up from £716.8 million ($1.19 billion) in 2012. At the heart of the growth was an 11.9% rise in digital revenues, with digital now accounting for 50% of total U.K. record industry trade revenues.
In line with other European markets, such as France, Italy and the entire Scandinavia region, streaming constituted the fastest-growing sector of the U.K. recorded music business with income from streaming services such as Deezer and Spotify increasing 41% in 2013 and generating £77 million ($129 million) in revenue.
Subscription accounted for 71% of total streaming revenues and was worth £54.7 million ($91.4 million). Income from ad-supported services also grew 31% year-on-year, contributing £19 million ($31.8 million) to U.K. industry revenues. Cloud-based platforms such as Google, Apple and Amazon locker services, meanwhile, generated £3 million ($5 million).
Unlike in the U.S., where digital track and album sales fell in 2013, the growing popularity of streaming services in the United Kingdom is yet to cannibalize download sales. In fact, revenue from digital album sales was up 19.5% in the U.K. last year, totaling £160.5 million ($268.5 million). The BPI attributes the success of home-grown breakthrough acts such as Bastille – whose debut album “Bad Blood” was the biggest-selling digital artist album in 2013 – alongside "premium" or "deluxe" digital albums such as Beyoncé's fourth quarter self-titled release, with fueling the growth.
Digital track sales were down 4.4% from the previous year’s record figure, but still generated £121.7 million ($203.5 million) in revenue - the second-highest total of all time.
Despite a 6.4% year-on-year fall in CD sales, physical formats still account for half of all U.K. recorded industry revenues. CD album and single sales totaled £365.4 million ($611 million) in 2013, while vinyl album sales grew 49% to total £12.1 million ($20.2 million).
"The U.K.'s record labels have re-imagined their businesses for a world of instant mobile, global access to music, driven by social media,” said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement. "With digital increasingly becoming its key source of revenue, Britain's music industry is fit and ready to seize the global opportunities it offers," Taylor went on to say.
BPI chairman Tony Wadsworth added, “After over a decade of digital transformation we are now seeing the transition of the recorded music business reach a significant milestone and a return to revenue growth.”