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UK Retailers Slam IFPI For ‘Blinkered’ Focus On Streaming

The head of the U.K. Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has criticized international music trade body IFPI for ignoring physical formats in its latest industry report and presenting a…

The head of the U.K. Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has criticized international music trade body IFPI for ignoring physical formats in its latest industry report and presenting a “blinkered view of the world.”

IFPI published its “Music Consumer Insight Report 2018” earlier this week. The study, carried out by IFPI and research company AudienceNet, measures consumer habits across 20 of the world’s leading markets, including the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, China and India.

The report found that consumers spend an average 17.8 hours listening to music each week globally, equating to 2.5 hours a day, with 86 percent of those surveyed doing so through on-demand streaming platforms such as Spotify and YouTube.

There was, however, no mention of physical formats among its 20 pages, despite CD and vinyl sales totaling $5.2 billion in 2017 and accounting for 30 percent of the global market, according to IFPI’s own “Global Music Report 2018.”

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That omission has led ERA CEO Kim Bayley to slam the London-based organization and what she describes as its “blinkered view of the world.” 

“No one is more enthusiastic about the rise of streaming than ERA. Indeed it is our members including Spotify, Amazon, Deezer and Google who are substantially responsible for the recent upturn in the recorded music industry’s fortunes,” says Bayley in a statement.

“However, all of our members are agreed that the key to a healthy music eco-system is a diverse channel landscape, embracing physical as well as digital formats,” she states, urging IFPI to adopt a “more supportive approach” to all facets of the business.

Responding to Bayley’s comments an IFPI spokesperson said its “Consumer Insight Report” was focused on “emerging trends” around music consumption.  

“Whilst we don’t have a specific section on the consumption of music through physical formats, the sections looking at time spent listening to music, the activities carried out whilst listening to music and the parts throughout looking at the most popular genres all include physical formats as a listening method,” said the spokesperson. They went on to say that IFPI fully recognizes “the importance of physical formats to the global music market.”  

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The row comes on the eve of National Album Day — an inaugural U.K.-wide celebration of the LP format organized by the ERA and British labels trade body BPI.

Artist ambassadors for the event — which organizers hope will become an annual showcase event like Record Store Day — include Alice Cooper, Paloma Faith, Jess Glynne, Tom Odell, Orbital and Public Service Broadcasting. The BBC is also supporting National Album Day with specialist programming across radio and TV. Other promotional events include fully-immersive playback sessions of selected albums (in association with AIM and audio tech company MQA) and an exhibition of iconic album artwork at London’s Waterloo Station.