Artist News Business News Labels & Publishers

Music consumption continued to grow during the year of Lewis Capaldi

By | Published on Wednesday 1 January 2020


The consumption of recorded music in the UK was up again in 2019 according to new year figures from record industry trade body BPI.

If you mash together streams, downloads and physical sales – as the BPI and Official Charts Company routinely do – consumption levels were up 7.5% last year to the equivalent of 154 million album units. Streaming now accounts for three quarters of that consumption.

Of course in the streaming age consumption data isn’t quite as insightful as the equivalent stats we used to get in the discs and downloads era, where units shifted were more tangibly linked to money going through the till.

Regarding how things performed last year revenues wise, the Entertainment Retailers Association will release its financial data for 2019 on Friday, while additional data from BPI regarding label income will follow in due course.

But what the BPI’s initial 2019 data dump confirms is that the streaming boom continues, meaning ever more people are listening to ever more music through Spotify, Apple Music, et al.

And fans of random stats might like to know that 2019 was the first time more than a 100 billion plays occurred on the streaming services in the UK within one year, with 114 billion plays being racked up by the year’s end.

Meanwhile, in December there was one week where 2.7 billion plays were counted, the highest weekly total to date.

All that said, the BPI would like us all to remember that many of its members are still selling plenty of physical discs alongside all that streaming nonsense.

Even rising cassette sales get a mention in the official BPI stats announcement this time round, albeit with the cautionary disclaimer that tape sales – while at their highest levels for fifteen years – still only account for 0.1% of overall music consumption. But still, cassette revival, woo!

Artists wise, it was, of course, Lewis Capaldi’s year, he having the most consumed album and single of 2019. Lil Nas X was in second place when it comes to single tracks, while Ed Sheeran and all of his collaborators had the second most consumed album.

“British music proved once again in 2019 that it has a bright future”, reckons BPI boss Geoff Taylor. “Strong demand for streaming music and vinyl, fuelled by the investment and innovation of UK labels in discovering and promoting new talent, boosted music consumption to levels not seen for fifteen years”.

But, of course, the UK’s newly appointed government – and all the Brexit bollocks it’s about to unleash – could still spectacularly fuck that all up.

Taylor adds: “The full benefits of this growth can only be unlocked if our new government takes action to make the UK more competitive and encourage further investment, to require digital platforms to pay fairly for music and filter out illegal content, and to give all our schoolchildren the opportunity to play an instrument and discover the joy of making music”.

You can check out the year-end UK music charts for 2019 here.