Brits Share of Global Market Hits Five-Year High

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Queen Elizabeth II greetsNicola Roberts, Cheryl Cole, Kimberley Walsh and Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud at the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall on November 19, 2012 in London.

A new generation of British artists and performers, led by Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, One Direction and Coldplay, has helped the U.K. grow its share of global music sales, according to new research from labels body BPI.

In 2014, just over one in every seven albums sold worldwide was by a British act, representing a 13.7 per cent share of last year’s global music sales -- up from 13 per cent the year before. In the five years that BPI has been measuring global data, 2014 saw the U.K. claim it’s highest ever market share, with five of the top 10 best-selling artist albums globally by home-grown acts.

At the top of the pile was Ed Sheeran’s X, which sold 4.4 million units. That was followed by Coldplay’s Ghost Stories (3.7 million), Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour (3.5 million), One Direction’s Four (3.2 million) and Pink Floyd’s The Endless River (2.5 million). As previously reported, last year’s best-selling artist album worldwide was Taylor Swift’s 1989, selling 6 million copies worldwide, according to IFPI figures.     

BPI estimates that the global retail value of British recorded music, including singles and albums, totaled $2.75 billion in 2014, a 5% increase on 2013’s total of $2.62 billion.

Key to the U.K.’s strong performance was an increased share of the U.S. market, which climbed to 12.2 per cent, up from 10.4 per cent in 2013. British acts also made gains in Canada (15.3 per cent market share, from 14.2 per cent), Australia (22.4 per cent, from 20.5 per cent), Italy (19.8 per cent, from 16.8 per cent) and Sweden (14.0 per cent, from 11.6 per cent), while home-grown artists share of the domestic market hit a 17-year high with Brits accounting for over half of all albums sold in the U.K. For the first time since records began, all 10 of the U.K.’s best-selling artist albums in 2014 were by British acts.

“The achievements of U.K. artists and labels in 2014 were truly outstanding,” commented BPI and BRIT Awards Chief Executive, Geoff Taylor. “They dominated sales at home like never before, releasing all of the top-10 best-selling artist albums of 2014, while climbing higher than ever in the charts overseas,” he went on to say.

BPI’s Music Market 2015 yearbook also provides analysis of the changes in music consumption in the U.K. Last year, Album Equivalent Sales (AES) stood at 117.2 million units, a fall of 2.1 per cent from 2013. In the same period, 14.8 billion songs were streamed across audio services (double last year’s total), with 73 tracks played more than 10 million times, compared with just seven the year before.   

In line with previous years, CD album sales once again fell, although the rate of declined slowed to 7.9 per cent year-on-year, a sharp contrast with 2013 when CD sales slumped 12.8 per cent and 2012’s 19.5 per cent fall. At the opposite end of the spectrum, demand for vinyl reached a 20-year high with LP sales totaling 1.3 million in 2014. Meanwhile, sales of compilation albums rose by 1.3 per cent to account for more than a quarter of all records purchased by U.K. consumers last year, fuelled by the popularity of the Now series and Frozen soundtrack.