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Adele, Sam Smith & Ed Sheeran Help U.K. Achieve Record Global Market Share

Adele performs in 2016
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Adele performs on stage at the at 3Arena Dublin on March 4, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland.  

According to BPI, music streaming usage in the U.K. climbed 82 percent last year, but ad-funded platforms (like YouTube) accounted for only 4 percent of industry revenue.

Around one in every six albums sold worldwide in 2015 was by a U.K. artist, according to latest figures from labels trade body BPI.

Driven by chart-topping records from Adele, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and One Direction, among others, Brits share of the global artist albums market grew to a record high of 17.1 percent last year, up from 13.7 percent in 2014.

As previously reported, 2015 saw British artists claim their highest-ever share of the U.S. artist albums market, rising to 17.6 percent. In Canada, Brits held a 22 percent share of the market, while five of the top 10 biggest selling artist albums globally were by U.K. artists, including the year’s biggest selling album, Adele’s 25, which sold 17.4 million copies in 2015. Sheeran’s X, Smith’s In The Lonely Hour, 1D's Made in the A.M. and Coldplay's A Head Full of Dreams were among the year’s other top 10 selling artist albums.?

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In Europe, U.K. artists’ share of album sales was even higher (25.9 percent, including U.K. sales), equating to one in every four albums sold. Taking domestic sales out of the equation, Brits still accounted for an impressive 16.1 percent share of all artist album sold in Europe last year. Home-grown artists’ share of the domestic album’s market also reached a 18-year high of 54.7 percent.

"It is hugely encouraging that demand for British music is so strong at home and abroad thanks to our brilliant artists and the continual innovation and investment of our record labels," said BPI chairman Geoff Taylor in a statement. "Yet the fact that sales revenues dipped in a record year for British music shows clearly that something is fundamentally broken in the music market, so that artists and the labels that invest in them no longer benefit fairly from growing demand."

Joining an ever-growing chorus of disapproval against YouTube, Taylor went on to lambast "dominant tech platforms" that are "able to abuse liability protections as royalty havens, dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists."

"The long-term consequences of this will be serious, reducing investment in new music, making it difficult for most artists to earn a living, and undermining the growth of more innovative services like Spotify and Apple Music that pay more fairly for the music they use," he went on to say.

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According to BPIs Music Market Yearbook 2016, music streaming usage in the U.K. climbed 82 percent last year to total 26.6 billion plays (across both paid and free tiers) and deliver a 69 percent rise in revenues to £146 million ($212 million).

In contrast, revenues from ad-funded platforms, including YouTube, totaled just £24 million -- 4 percent of total industry revenues on a global basis and a 0.4 percent rise on the previous year, despite usage spiking by a mammoth 88 percent to total 27 billion streams -- equating to nearly a fifth of total music consumption.

"This is wrong. Music is precious -- it’s not a commodity to be strip-mined for big data," argues Taylor, who said the "problem requires urgent action by the EU, and our Government needs to take the lead in making sure it is tackled."

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Other data contained in the BPI sales round up included a 13.5 percent year-on-year drop in download album sales and 14.7 percent fall in download singles. Meanwhile, streams accounted for two thirds (66.4 percent) of the singles market and over a quarter (27.3 percent) of chart-eligible album sales.

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