Streaming sales rise 49% to drive UK music industry

Music streaming services saw revenues grow 49% to £251m last year, as a new report suggests the UK music industry has several reasons to be cheerful.

Spotify and competitors increased their revenues by £75m last year
Spotify and competitors increased their revenues by £75m last year

The data appears in Measuring Music 2016, an annual study from UK Music examining the scale of the industry and changes in employment and consumer behaviour. The rapid rate of growth led UK Music to call streaming "key to the continued growth of the industry."

But culture secretary Karen Bradley said the changing shape of music consumption posed difficult questions for streaming providers, like YouTube.

"For the potential of streaming to be fully realised, it must operate fairly and value the music that creates business and traffic for the service," said Bradley.

"The debate on fair remuneration for rights holders from digital services like YouTube and from all user-uploaded content has never been more important if our future digital market is to continue to grow and prosper.  Sustainability and stability are critical for future growth."

As streaming has exploded, sales of digital albums have fallen, and were down 12.5% last year to £175m. But physical sales, which have been declining steadily for years, fell less than 0.5% to £512m, thanks to the continued resurgence in vinyl.

Music to their ears

International hits from Adele, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith helped the music industry’s contribution to the UK’s economy hit £4.1bn last year, the report shows..

This was driven in particular by a series of major album releases: five of the year’s ten best sellers were by British artists, and one in six albums sold worldwide was British.

A majority, 53.7% (£2.2bn) of the 2015 total came from export sales – including recordings, live music, and services – a far higher figure than the average across all sectors, 30%.

Live music exports grew 35% last year alone, as more than 750,000 tourists attended gigs and festivals in the UK.

UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple said the numbers proved that it was vital for the government to handle Brexit in a way that did not damage the potential of the industry.

"The UK needs to solidify its new post-Brexit place in the world and music will undoubtedly be part of the glue that does this," she said. "Our export profile is astounding which is partly why music, like sport, gives the world an understanding of our small country."

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