Music consumption increased for a sixth year in 2020, with 155 million albums or their equivalent either streamed or purchased in 2020 – an 8.2 per cent rise on 2019, with growth led by streaming fuelled by label investment.
There were some 139 billion audio streams – up by over a fifth – with nearly 200 artists streamed over 100 million times, according to data from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Streaming now accounts for four-fifths (80.6 per cent) of UK music consumption, with people of all ages using it for their daily music choices, but also collecting their favourite albums on CD, vinyl and other physical formats.
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “A new wave of British talent is capitalising on the immediacy of streaming to achieve fantastic success, measured in the hundreds of millions, even billions of streams. Record labels are investing heavily in new artists to secure the future of British music, boosting the UK’s exports and soft power. The performance of recorded music in 2020 was remarkable, and reminds us how important music is to our country, even when our lives are disrupted. But any satisfaction we can take is tempered by the devastating impact of the pandemic on live music. Recorded music is only one element of artists’ incomes, and we renew our calls on government to support our culturally important venues, nightclubs and festivals until they can safely reopen.”
The top 10 streaming artists in 2020 each achieved over half a billion streams in the UK alone. But below them in the top 200 there were many artists achieving more than 200 million streams, while further down still, even artists ranking between 500th– 1,000th achieved between 43 million and 21 million UK streams. A million streams may sound a lot out of context, but 8,000 different acts now exceed this threshold annually.
The market has become much more competitive, with many more artists able to access distribution and streaming platforms. Even at the lower end of streaming volume has surged, with more than six times as many artists achieving 100,000 streams as the equivalent number of sales in 2007. This means competition for consumer attention has intensified, requiring 24/7 fan engagement and marketing. And this is where labels are stepping up with £250 million of A&R investment, helping British artists to continue to lead the world.
Taylor added: “Streaming means that there are many more artists active in the market than ever before. This is great news for fans, but means that it is harder than ever for artists to achieve success – so that continued support and investment from record labels in marketing and production is crucial.”