UK Music Sales Grew 10% in First Half of 2019

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Between January and June, British consumers spent £673 million ($817 million) on recorded music across all formats.

Music sales in the U.K. rose by just under 10% in the first six months of 2019, driven by the growing uptake of subscription streaming services and a number of big-selling movie soundtracks, according to half-year figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

Between January and June, British consumers spent £673 million ($817 million) on recorded music across all formats -- up 9.9% on the same period the previous year. 

Streaming made up the lion’s share of revenue, generating £486 million ($590 million) in music sales, a rise of more than 25% on the first half of 2018. In turn, physical sales fell by just under 14% to £139 million ($169 million) and downloads tumbled by more than 26% to £48 million ($58 million).   

The best-selling album during the period was The Greatest Showman soundtrack, which sold 380,000 copies on top of the 1.6 million units it already moved in the U.K. in 2018.

The second highest-selling album was Lewis Capaldi’s chart-topping debut, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, which sold 229,000 units, according to Official Charts Company figures. 

The top five was rounded out by George’s Ezra’s sophomore set, Staying at Tamara’s (226,000 units); Ariana Grande’s Thank U Next (225,000); and the Bohemian Rhapsody official soundtrack (221,000). 

The best-selling single was Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” with more than 1.3 million sales, followed by Calvin Harris & Rag‘n’Bone Man’s “Giant” (969,000), Ava Max’s “Sweet But Psycho” (964,000), Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” (930,000) and Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” (827,000).

When home movie streaming and online game purchases are factored in, Brits now spend more than £100 million ($121 million) every week on digital entertainment. 

Total spend during the first six months of the year on the combined music, video and games sectors (including physical and digital formats) was £3.3 billion ($4 billion) -- a rise of 4.5% on 2018. 

Of those three sectors, music is the fastest growing, although still remains some distance off catching either in terms of sales revenue. Consumer spending on video in January to June, for instance, was just over £1 billion ($1.2 billion), says ERA, while the games industry generated more than £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in sales.   

One silver lining for the music industry is that the best-selling video during that time was Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which sold nearly 1.5 million units on top of its bumper cinema box office.  

“With January-June historically the quietest half of the year, this is another great result for entertainment,” said ERA CEO Kim Bayley in a statement. She praised digital services and physical retailers for continuing to “innovate to expand the market for music, video and games.” 


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