Current State Of UK Album Sales: Explained In Four Graphics

New Year, same old debate – is the album a dying format?

Yesterday (January 1) saw British music industry body the BPI and the Official Charts Company released their annual sales figures.

Beneath positive headlines about an increase in streaming and a modest rise in digital album sales, there was the stark fact that yet again album sales overall (combined physical and digital) decreased – in 2013 by 6.4%. The total was 94 million, meaning the average Briton bought 1.49 records last year.

Some context: while the UK is boasting a boom in revenue from streaming services like Spotify and Deezer, now worth a reported £103m to UK music (that’s approximately a tenth of all of the recorded music industry’s revenues in 2013), less albums are being bought each year.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that people are still enjoying tons of music – and there was tons of good music last year – the challenge for the UK music industry is still making money from that recorded output in order to invest in the next brilliant new artist. Here are four graphics which put current album sales in context. They’re there for next time the ‘death of the album?’ debate comes up in the pub.

UK Album sales across all formats (2009-2013)

UK Album sales – CD only (2009-2013)

UK Album sales – Digital only (2009-2013)

UK Album sales in 2013 – all formats (figures shown are %)