HITS Daily Double


Music consumption in the U.K. rose 2.5% in 2021, with individual audio streams up 5.7%. The increase, though good news, is nonetheless down from recent years; in 2020, consumption was up 8.2% and in 2019, it rose by 7.5%.

According to BPI figures, 159m albums or their equivalent were either streamed or purchased across all formats last year in the U.K. Consumption was primarily made up of streams, of which there were 147b audio streams, accounting for 83% of the total.

CD sales dropped 10.5% last year to 14.4m, amounting to 9% of the total, while vinyl sales spiked 10.6% to 5.3m—the highest figure in three decades—or a 3.3% share. Despite an overall 5.5% decline in physical album sales, which adds up to 12.5% of the consumption total, the vast majority of 2021's weeks (40) saw physical counting for more than half of chart-eligible sales for the #1 artist album. Digital-download albums dipped 23.1%, to 4.6m units sold.

The BPI, which has been lobbying against any change in U.K. law that could see artists paid more from streaming, says that the number of artists earning meaningful royalties from the format is on the up; the trade body reports that more than 1.9k artists were streamed more than 10m times in the U.K. in 2021, up from 1.8k in 2020 and 1.5k in 2019.

Said BPI Chief Exec Geoff Taylor (pictured): “The rise of streaming has empowered more artists than ever—from all backgrounds and eras—to build new fanbases around the world and to forge successful careers in music, while record labels have continued to provide the investment and support needed for British talent to thrive and reach a truly global audience.”