UK Music Biz Comes Together For 'National Album Day'

Courtesy of Chuff Media
Paloma Faith

Paloma Faith is among the ambassadors for inaugural edition.

Labels, retailers and artists from across the British music industry have joined forces to launch National Album Day -- a celebration of the LP format that organizers hope will become an annual showcase event, much like Record Store Day. 

The inaugural edition is scheduled to take place Saturday 13 October when music lovers, radio stations and record stores will be invited to nominate and play their favourite album in full. The run up to the event will see a week-long programme of promotional activities take place across the U.K., including artist appearances, classic album playbacks and exclusive retail and streaming platform tie-ins. 

"The way we engage with music may be changing, but for me the album remains the ultimate expression of the songwriter's craft," said ambassador Paloma Faith in a statement announcing National Album Day. The British singer cited Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Bob Dylan's Freewheelin' and Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut among her favourite examples of the format. 

Other artists backing the promotion include award-winning classical pianist and composer Alexis Ffrench, electronic music pioneers Orbital and Public Service Broadcasting's J. Willgoose, Esq, who applauded the event for "highlighting the strength of the album even in and amongst today's more episodic, fractured media landscape."

"Streaming may be broadening our ability to access and discover music, but the concept of the album as a body of work that expresses a narrative or an artist's creative vision at a given moment, remains as relevant and inspiring as ever," said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of British labels trade body BPI, joint organizers of National Album Day alongside the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

The U.K.-wide event also has the support of British music bodies AIM (Association of Independent Music), FAC (Featured Artist Coalition), MMF (Music Managers Forum), MPG (Music Producers Guild), Official Charts Company, collection society PPL, United Talent Agency and industry umbrella body UK Music. The BBC has additionally signed on as National Album Day's official broadcast partner, providing coverage across radio, online and TV. 

"The role of the album has evolved over 70 years -- through vinyl and beautiful artwork to current streaming consumption -- yet the story behind a great album remains an important part of British culture," said BBC Music's James Stirling, vowing to celebrate the format "in all its glory."  

His words were echoed by Iain McNay, chairman of British indie label Cherry Red Records, who helped shape National Album Day. He called it a "great reminder of the creative thought and brilliance that goes into the making of an album."

The announcement of a nationwide celebration of the LP format comes at a time when albums sales are on the rise in the U.K. In 2017, 135 million albums, or their equivalent, were either purchased on CD and vinyl, downloaded or streamed -- a rise of 9.5 percent on the previous year, largely driven by a surge in streaming (68 billion streams in 2017, accounting for over half of all U.K. music consumption), according to Official Charts Company data.

Although still a niche format, over 4 million album sales were on vinyl -- the highest level since the start of the 1990's -- while over 40 million CD albums were sold last year, down 12 percent on 2016, but still representing nearly a third of all music purchases in the U.K.

According to BPI estimates, around 5 billion albums have been sold in the U.K. since the first ever 12", 33 1/3 rpm vinyl LP (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor, on Columbia Masterworks) was released in June 1948.