Business News Labels & Publishers Retail

Streaming boom ensured growth in recorded music and entertainment retail at large in 2017

By | Published on Thursday 4 January 2018


Trade bodies for the UK record industry and British entertainment retailers have put out their top line stats for 2017 and, hey, here’s a thing, streaming is booming and the vinyl revival continues. Who’d have thought it possible? So, yes, the key trends in recorded music in 2017 mirrored the key trends of the last few years, with CDs and downloads still in decline, while vinyl grows and streaming booms.

The latter boom means streaming now accounts for just over half of all recorded music consumption in the UK, according to record label trade body the BPI, with the number of audio-streams consumed up 51.5% year-on-year. In the vinyl domain, 4.1 million vinyl albums were sold last year, which is a 26.8% year-on-year increase.

In terms of actual money – rather than consumption – the Entertainment Retailers Association’s figures say that the retail value of music streaming in 2017 was £577.1 million, with the retail value of all music products coming in at just over £1.2 billion. That means streaming income was up 41.9%, more than compensating for revenue declines in physical and downloads, so that music retail at large was up 9.6%.

The home video and gaming sectors also saw increases in 2017 so that the entire entertainment retail sector saw sales of over £7.2 billion, up 8.8%. Digital services fuelled growth in video and gaming too, though physical sales were also up in the latter, by 2.1%.

Commenting on the figures, ERA boss Kim Bayley said: “This is an historic result which demonstrates the benefits of innovation and investment in new technology. New digital services are bringing ever increasing numbers of the UK population back to entertainment with 24/7 access to the music, video and games they want. In the past the growth of the market tended to be dependent on the release schedules of games publishers, film studios and record labels. Now we are seeing a market which is also driven by digital platforms and technologies”.

The BPI were equally upbeat about the specific performance of recorded music in the UK last year, though also issued the customary “but it could all be so much better” aside, showing the push to close the so called ‘value gap’ enabled by the copyright safe harbour continues, despite all three majors having now done new deals with the key safe harbour dweller YouTube.

BPI chief Geoff Taylor stated: “Whilst the rapid growth of streaming and resilient demand for physical formats gives us confidence for the future, it is important to remember that the music industry still has a long way to go to recover fully. Structural challenges must be overcome if long-term growth is to be sustained. We must continue to fight the ‘value gap’, so that all digital platforms pay fairly for their use of music”.

Taylor also repeated his concerns about the possible impact of Brexit on the UK music industry, adding that “[the] government must ensure our musicians are able to tour freely even after we leave the EU”. He then concluded: “Finally, we should make the UK the best place to invest in new content by forging an online environment that is safe for consumers and where illegal sites cannot flourish. If we do this, the future for British music, which is already one of our leading exports, will be very bright”.