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British Label Sales Grew to £1.1 Billion in 2019, Says BPI

The music industry, like all aspects of society, may currently be taking a battering from coronavirus, but some small crumbs of comfort can be found in new figures released by British labels trade…

LONDON — The music industry, like all aspects of society, may currently be taking a battering from coronavirus, but some small crumbs of comfort can be found in new figures released by British labels trade body BPI that illustrate the giant strides made by the record business over the past decade.

U.K. labels reported just under £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) in sales revenue across streaming, CD, vinyl and download sales, public performance rights and sync in 2019, up 7.3% on the previous year, and the highest level of annual trade income since 2006.

Driving the growth was — unsurprisingly — streaming sales, which climbed by 22% to £629 million ($755 million). 90% of that streaming total came from subscription revenues, while ad-supported tiers accounted for around 4%. Video streaming ads from the likes of YouTube contributed £35 million ($42 million), equivalent to a 5.6% share.

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Streaming now makes up just under 60% of all U.K. label sales, with the number of paying subscribers in the U.K. now at almost 20 million, according to estimates from MIDiA Research.

Physical formats brought in a further £216 million ($259 million) in 2019, representing 20% of trade income. Breaking physical sales down, CD purchases totaled £142 million (down 20% year-on year) and vinyl £66 million (up 16%). Download sales fell by almost 30% to £58 million ($69 million).

Across all formats, the equivalent of 154 million albums were streamed, purchased on physical formats or downloaded in the U.K. last year. 2019 also saw more than 110 billion tracks streamed for the first time in a single year.

Meanwhile, music-heavy films like Last Christmas, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman helped boost sync income to just over £28 million ($33 million), a rise of 11% on 2018.

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The numbers quoted by the BPI in its annual trade income report are based upon information provided its U.K. record label members, combined with Official Charts Company market share data. According to BPI, more than £120 million ($144 million) was lost to the music industry due to piracy in 2019.”

The music industry’s success is powered by record labels’ up-front investment and shouldering of risk,” said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor. “But there is no room to rest on our laurels. British music faces intense competition at home and abroad, is undervalued by some tech platforms and is undermined by widespread illegal sites.”

Noting that total UK record sales still remain a fifth below their 2001 peak, Taylor called upon the British government to partner with the music sector and “unleash the full potential of our music industry.”

As previously reported, Lewis Capaldi was the U.K.’s best-selling artist of 2019, selling more than 640,000 copies of his debut Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent across all formats. Capaldi’s breakthrough single “Someone You Loved” was streamed over 228 million times. Liam Gallagher’s Why Me? Why Not was last year’s best-selling vinyl release in the U.K., shifting just under 30,000 copies.