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One Direction Guides U.K. to Take 13% of Global Album Sales

One Direction led Brits' album sales around the world last year, alongside Mumford & Sons, Robbie Williams and -- surprise -- Adele.

One in every eight artist albums sold around the world in 2013 — totaling 13% of the global market — was by a U.K. act, according to a new report from British labels trade body the BPI. The popularity of British acts on the world stage is consistent with 2012, when U.K. artists accounted for 13.3% of global artist album sales. 

At the forefront of the British offensive, somewhat unsurprisingly, was One Direction, whose third studio album Midnight Memories sold 4 million copies worldwide in the 5-week period between its release in November 2013 and the year’s end. As previously reported, Midnight Memories, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, was the best-selling global album of last year, just beating Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 to the top spot, according to IFPI analysis.


In addition to One Direction’s Midnight Memories, other reigning albums worldwide from British artists in 2013 included Mumford & Sons’ sophomore set Babel (No. 13 on the global rankings), Adele’s 21 (No. 17), Robbie WilliamsSwings Both Ways (No. 18), Emeli Sande’s Our Version of Events (No. 33), David Bowie’s The Next Day (No. 35) and Black Sabbath’s 13 (No.36). Bastille‘s Bad Blood was last year’s biggest-selling debut by a U.K. act, just missing out on a Top 40 position in the worldwide chart.

One Direction’s accolade means that British artists have now accounted for the top-selling global album in six of the last seven years. Adele, Coldplay, Susan Boyle and Amy Winehouse are among the British artists to have also topped the worldwide albums chart since 2007, with Eminem’s 2010 album Recovery the one non-U.K. exception. 

Despite the continued global success of British acts, U.K. artists’ share of the U.S. market actually fell in 2013, falling from 13.6% to 10.4%, according to figures contained in the BPI Yearbook 2014. 


The figure is still higher than the average for recent years, however, and the U.S. remains the second-biggest market (behind the U.K.) for British music, with combined U.S. sales revenue from U.K. acts totaling $465.2 million in 2013, according to the BPI Yearbook.

Conversely, U.S. artists’ share of the U.K. albums market also experienced a small decline, slipping to 33.8% in 2013, down from 34.2% the previous year. The incremental fall can be partially attributed to a slight rise in sales of Canadian (Michael Bublé, Celine Dion and Drake) and French (chiefly Daft Punk) artist albums in the U.K. that year.

Fueled by the success of home-grown acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Ellie Goulding, Olly Murs and Rod Stewart, British artists accounted for 8 of the U.K.’s top 10 best-selling albums in 2013, claiming a 52% share of the domestic albums market — the same percentage as the previous year.  

“For home-grown talent to have recorded the world’s biggest-selling album six out of the last seven years is a phenomenal achievement that says a great deal about the popularity of British music around the world, especially taking into account the fact that one in every eight albums sold globally are by U.K. artists,” commented BPI spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo

“Aside from the obvious contribution to British exports, this success underlines the vital role that our music and artists play in promoting the appeal of British culture around the world,” Castaldo went on to say.

As previously reported, total U.K. recorded music trade revenues in 2013 stood at £730 million ($1.2 billion) — a 1.9% increase on the previous year, arresting a four-year decline.