Music streaming doubles in 2013, as album sales fall

Streaming now accounts for 10 per cent of record label revenue

Online music streaming has doubled in the past 12 months.

The surge in usage of services such as Spotify and Deezer means around 7.4billion tracks were streamed in the UK last year, double the previous year’s total. The boost has pushed music revenues above £1billion, with streaming subscriptions worth £103million a year – equivalent to 10 per cent of all record labels’ income – up 34 per cent on the £77million in 2012.

The absolute total income generated by streaming will be much higher, however, as the £103million figure does not include the cash from the advertising on free streams and on services such as YouTube. Arctic Monkeys were the year’s most-streamed artist.

The cash increase from streaming services coincides with an overall dip – down 6.4 per cent across all formats – in album sales during 2013, particularly a decline in CD sales. Album sales were worth £772 million in 2013. CD sales of 60.6 million were down almost 13 per cent on 2012’s total, but despite the impression the format is dead, CDs still account for almost two thirds of all albums sold in the UK. Digital sales of 32.6 million – up almost 7 per cent on 2012’s tally – now represent almost 35 per cent of the total album market.

There were 175.6million digital singles bought in the UK in 2013, a figure close to 2012’s all-time high of 183.3 million tracks downloaded. The so-called vinyl revival continues, too, with sales of vinyl albums up to 780,000 during 2013. While this only amounts to 0.8 per cent of all albums sold during the year, it represents a 101 per cent increase on 2012’s total. It’s also the highest figure of vinyl sold since 1997, when Brits bought 817,000 LPs. Vinyl 7″ singles also saw an increase during 2013, up 34 per cent on the previous year, while 12″ singles increased 60 per cent on 2012.

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said: “The success of digital music in 2013 surpassed all previous records – we celebrated the one billionth track download, counted four million-selling digital singles, and streamed more than 7 billion songs. As digital music moves into the streaming era, the prospects for future growth in the UK music market look strong.”