One Direction, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran Help British Artists Grow Share of U.S. Market

Jeff Daly/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan of the band One Direction appear on the "Today" show from Universal Orlando Resort on Monday, November 17, 2014.

Best-selling albums from Sam Smith, One Direction, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran helped British artists grow their share of the U.S. albums market in 2014, according to new research from U.K. labels body BPI.

Utilizing data from Nielsen Music, BPI reports that almost one in eight (12.2 per cent) of all artist albums sold in the U.S. last year were by British artists -- up from one in ten ( 10.4 per cent) the year before.

2014 was the fourth consecutive year that Brits' share of the albums market in the U.S. exceeded 10 per cent, with Sam Smith’s debut, In The Lonely Hour, last year’s best-selling album by a British artist in the U.S., followed by One Direction’s Four.

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The Grammy-winning In The Lonely Hour was 2014's third best-selling album in the U.S. overall, according to Nielsen, with One Direction’s latest and fourth consecutive Billboard 200 chart-topper at No. 9 in the year-end charts.

Smith also beat stiff competition from One Direction, Coldplay and Sheeran to claim the best-selling single by a U.K. artist with "Stay With Me." The track was also the most streamed song from a British act, amassing more than 147 million streams in the U.S., while One Direction was the most-streamed U.K. act in America with more than 533 million plays in total. The recently slimmed-down four-piece were closely followed by Sheeran, who racked up 427 million streams.

Collectively, Smith, One Direction, Coldplay and Sheeran accounted for more than a fifth (21 per cent) of all U.K. albums sold in the U.S., with cumulative sales across all four titles totaling over 3.5 million.

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Other notable British album releases that contributed to the U.K.’s growing share of the world’s leading market included Arctic Monkeys, Bastille, Little Mix, Alt-J, The 1975, Disclosure, FKA Twigs and London Grammar.

The story was similarly positive in the singles market, where British artists accounted for almost one in nine (11.5 per cent) of all tracks downloaded in the U.S. in 2014 -- a seven year high for the territory, fueled by big-selling tracks from Sam Smith, Bastille, Calvin Harris, Passenger, Jessie J and Disclosure.

"British artists well and truly flew the flag in the world's biggest and most competitive music market last year. The sensational achievements of Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, One Direction and the entire 'Class of 2014' demonstrate once again that the U.K.'s music industry is a world beater," said BPI and BRIT Awards chief executive, Geoff Taylor.


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