UK record labels’ income hit £1.1 billion last year – the highest since 2006

That's a 7.3 per cent jump on the previous year

British record labels reached their highest trade income in 14 years, with sales revenue of just under £1.1 billion in 2019.

The revenue, which grew 7.3 per cent on the previous year, is counted across streaming, CD, vinyl and download sales, public performance rights and sync.

It’s the highest level of annual trade income since 2006, The BPI reports. Across all formats, the equivalent of 154 million albums were streamed, bought on physical formats or downloaded in the UK in 2019. Last year also saw more than 110 billion tracks streamed for the first time in the 12-month calendar period.

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The good news comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is having an otherwise detrimental effect on the entertainment industry. Dozens of artists have been forced to pull or postpone scheduled tours and gig dates (see full list here), while the UK government is advising people to stay away from music venues to help slow the spread of the virus.

In other positive news, the government has pledged grants and loans to pubs, clubs and music venues – and to help small firms without insurance – as the crisis deepens.

The BPI reports further that streaming sales climbed by 22 per cent to £629 million. Subscription revenues accounted for 90 per cent of that streaming total, while ad-supported tiers accounted for around 4 per cent. Video streaming ads from the likes of YouTube contributed £35 million, equivalent to a 5.6 per cent share.

Streaming now makes up just under 60 per cent of all UK label sales, with the number of paying subscribers in Great Britian now at almost 20 million, according to estimates from MIDiA Research [via Billboard].

Physical formats brought in a further £216 million in 2019, which represents 20 per cent of trade income. CD purchases totalled £142 million (down 20 per cent year-on year) and vinyl £66 million (up 16 per cent). Download sales fell by almost 30 per cent to £58 million.

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“The music industry’s success is powered by record labels’ up-front investment and shouldering of risk,” Geoff Taylor, the BPI’s chief executive said. “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.”

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

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