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In 2013, 7.4bn songs were streamed in the UK, doubling the previous year's total of 3.7bn. 

This figure comes from the latest report by the Official Charts Company and the British Phonographic Industry, or BPI as it wishes to be known as nobody since the turn of last century knows what a phonograph is.

2013 saw an even bigger shift towards digital technology being the primary way that listeners discover and enjoy new music, helped with the continued increase of tablet and smartphone ownership, and the improvement of music streaming apps on mobile devices.

Here are some more digital music related stats from the report, which may feature names of artists you’ll have to ask your kids about or consult your nearest NME reader.

Streaming broke the £100m barrier in 2013

Streaming subscription services such as Spotify, Google Play or Rdio, are currently worth £103m. This is equivalent to 10% of the overall value of the UK music market, up 34% from £77m in 2012, when the overall value stood at 7%. 

This £103m figure is a conservative estimate though, as it doesn’t include revenue from advertising that funds free streaming services such as YouTube. The final figure should actually be significantly higher.

Arctic Monkeys were 2013’s most streamed artists. Actually, you’ll probably have to tell your kids about them.

Annual music revenue has now been pushed above £1bn.

Digital album downloads increase by 100% in five years, but 2013 sees a lack of million-selling artists

Digital album downloads saw a 6.8% increase on 2012, with 32.6m albums downloaded in 2013.

The most popular album download of 2013 was the seemingly immortal compilation album ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 85’.

Despite Arctic Monkeys being the most streamed artist, the most popular album download of 2013 was Bastille’s ‘Bad Blood’.

The Entertainment Retailer’s Association (ERA) recently published its table of 2013’s biggest selling entertainment products in terms of volume, and it’s quite evident that there isn’t a single artist or band album in the top 20, despite the fact that music generally has a much smaller retail price than games or blu-rays. This is the first time this has happened in 20 years.

The lack of a million-selling artist is startling. Last year’s top selling album Emeli Sandé’s ‘Our Version of Events’ shifted 1.4m copies, and previous to that Adele’s ‘21’ sold 3.9m copies in 2011. This figure would easily have beaten this year’s number one product, Grand Theft Auto V.

Inconveniently, 2013’s biggest artists, One Direction, released their album ‘Midnight Memories’ only five weeks before the end of the year, so even that failed to register in the top 20

Within this time, the One Direction album sold 685,000 copies, enough to make it the fastest selling album of 2013, but only just scrape above Emeli Sandé’s 2012 album, who’s sales in 2013 achieved 683,000. We very nearly could have had the same album become the biggest selling artist album in the UK two years in the row, such is the stagnant nature of current physical music sales.

As online streaming and digital downloads increase, CD sales continue to decline 

Album sales totalled £772m in 2013, while CD sales accounted for 61m units. This latter figure is down almost 13% on 2012's total.

CD sales do still account for almost two thirds (64%) of all albums sold in the UK, and compilation albums were up 3.7% on last year. However the CD market share is down 12.8% on last year

Digital sales in 2013 accounted for 32.6m units, this is a 35% share of the UK market, 6.8% up on last year.

There were 176m digital singles bought in the UK in 2013, which came close to the all time high of 183m digital singles bought in 2012.

The most downloaded track was unsurprisingly ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke, with ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk coming in second. I would imagine Pharrell Williams had a particularly good Christmas this year.

And speaking of which, for the fourth year in a row, over 1m songs were downloaded on Christmas Day alone.

For 2013’s other digital music related success story, read how Beyoncé broke all digital music records with her surprise album.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 3 January, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

A bonus stat for my own personal pleasure: Vinyl sales were up 101% in 2013.

almost 3 years ago



the same album become the biggest selling artist album in the UK two years in the row, such is the stagnant nature of current physical music sales.

almost 3 years ago

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