Downloads down 12% in UK, albums down 5% – but streaming soars 81%

The UK recorded music market saw a painful decline in single-track downloads in the first three months of 2015, but the number of tracks streamed almost doubled.

Track downloads fell 11.9% year-on-year in Q1, dropping from 41.08m in  to 36.18m.

Digital album sales also dropped significantly by 8.6%, from 7.91m to 7.23m.

Albums in m UK Q1 2015

But according to BPI data reported by German B2B MusikMarkt, streaming had a stormer.

The volume of total streams on audio services (not including YouTube) hit 5.32bn in the quarter, up a whopping 81.4% on the equivalent period in 2014, when they reached 2.93bn.

In the whole of 2014, 14.8bn tracks were streamed by consumers in the UK, according to the BPI.

That means that even if the volume of streaming didn’t increase over the next three quarters – which of course, it will, especially with Apple entering the fray – and stayed rigid at 5.32bn every three months, 2015’s streaming tally would still be 48.2% bigger than 2014.

The BPI has not released any data regarding how this, or any other sales category, translates into value terms.


What you deduce from there rather depends if you’re willing to follow the BPI’s logic.

What we know for sure is that overall album sales – that’s actual digital and physical album purchases – declined 5.3% to 18.74m

CD album sales fell by 4.5% to 11.1m; interestingly, that means digital albums sales are now declining at a faster rate than CDs.

Now, the BPI then uses the notorious ‘album equivalent’ method – which translates every 1,000 streams and every 10 track downloads into an ‘album’ – to posit that total album sales were actually up by 3% in Q1.

That’s despite album sales – actual album sales – being down. Got it?

Vinyl continued its charge forward, growing 69.4% to 393,826 unit sales in Q1.Music Business Worldwide

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