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UK market tops 500 million streams per week

By | Published on Monday 27 July 2015

Uptown Funk

The record industry has always been pretty stats-happy, though over the last year or so an ever more steady flow of figures have been coming out of the sector’s trade bodies around the world, presumably because in the digital domain it’s easier to get the numbers together on a more regular basis.

It can be hard to keep with them all (we’ll do another speedy summary in the September edition of the CMU Trends Report), though in the main each set of figures is just confirming that ongoing trend, with some regional variations: that streaming is booming in terms of users and revenue, CD sales continue to slowly decline, the nominal vinyl revival is still ongoing, and downloads are still down loads (stolen joke alert, stolen joke alert).

The UK’s BPI – one of the most stat happy of all the trade groups – put out another slew of data this weekend, mainly to big up the fact that British music fans are now streaming more than 500 million tracks a week, and that’s based on Official Charts Company data so doesn’t include YouTube or SoundCloud, which don’t currently chart return in the UK.

According to the latest figures, 11.5 billion streams took place on the subscription-based platforms (so those where you have to sign-up to listen, though this includes freemium and premium) in the first half of this year, compared with 14.8 billion streams for the whole of 2014. And in chart week ending 16 Jul, 505,849,000 tracks were streamed, meaning the industry’s counters-in-chief are now confident that the total figure for 2015 will top 25 billion. Add in the non chart-returning platforms, and the number could exceed 50 billion.

Of course, consumption and revenue are two very different things, and unlike with CD and download sales, in streaming the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. While streaming services are paying per-play guarantees to rights owners, the overall total number of streams is relevant, but as the market matures it’s the revenue-share arrangements between the DSPs and the labels, publishers and collecting societies that matter. And then, for individual artists and rights owners, what becomes more relevant is what percentage of overall consumption comes from your catalogue.

And, of course, all the debates remain about streaming royalties, quite where freemium fits in, and whether the current subscription models are viable – for both DSP and rights owners – long term. Which makes revenue figures better than consumption figures in order to assess the state of the industry, and even then, what’s really needed to work out whether doom and gloom is justified, is the much less readily accessible (or, where available, dissectible) profit figures. Still, streams will dominate in the future – that seems certain – and so everyone needs to find a way to make this thing work commercially.

Meanwhile, here are the ten most streamed tracks in 2015 so far – these guys are probably doing OK. So there’s that.

1. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
2. Omi – Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)
3. Hozier – Take Me To The Church
4. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
5. Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do
6. Wiz Khalifa feat Charlie Puth – See You Again
7. James Bay – Hold Back The River
8. Maroon 5 – Sugar
9. Years & Years – King
10. Major Lazer feat Mo & DJ Snake – Lean On