Growth in music consumption slows in the UK

·2-min read
In the UK, music consumption grew by 2.5% in 2021, compared to 8.2% the previous year.

Seemingly unaffected by the pandemic, music continues to play a part in the daily lives of millions of listeners. Nevertheless, growth in music consumption appears to be slowing in the UK, according to the latest annual report of the British Phonographic Industry.

While the pandemic has been catastrophic for concerts and festivals, it has contributed to a boom in recorded music. This is particularly visible in the UK, where the BPI reports a 5.7% increase in streaming. But for music consumption as a whole, it's a slightly different story. This grew by just 2.5% in 2021, compared to 8.2% the previous year.

Although growth in music consumption has slowed in the UK, the gap between streaming and physical record sales continues to widen. More than ever, digital listening is a real growth driver for the music industry and its artists. Nearly 2,000 musicians passed the 10-million-streams mark in the UK in 2021. This figure is particularly symbolic since the British Phonographic Industry estimates that it is equivalent to the sale of 10,000 CDs.

Cassette crunch

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said: "Success today is gauged in the multi-millions, sometimes billions of streams, which generate micropayments that build over time, in line with relative popularity and demand from fans. This year's growth shows there is a huge appetite for music and we believe that by working together we can increase the value of the whole music market, so that streaming can support even more artists in the future."

In the physical market, record sales may not be as impressive, but they're still in the game. A new generation of music lovers continues to buy CDs and vinyl, even though both media formats were pronounced dead in the face of the rise of streaming. Artists like Adele, Ed Sheeran and ABBA have also helped boost record sales with their latest albums. Cassettes, however, are proving less successful. Only 185,000 cassettes were sold in the UK in 2021, according to the BPI.

Caroline Drzewinski

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