Streaming now represents 27% of album ‘sales’ in the UK market

When the UK’s Official Charts Company introduced streaming into its albums chart early last year, it was at pains to make sure that hit singles didn’t skew the figures.

Unlike the US Billboard 200, where single smash tracks can significantly boost the chart performance of albums, things in the UK are a little less simple.

In order to better reflect album-like consumption on Spotify, Apple Music et al, the UK’s ‘streaming equivalent’ album unit is created by dividing total plays of an LP’s 12 most popular tracks by 1,000.

However, the two biggest tracks are then down-weighted in an attempt to mute their impact on overall album sales – while video streams on YouTube are not counted at all.

This formula hasn’t stopped streaming heavily influencing the UK albums market, however.

According to new data from the BPI, streams accounted for over a quarter (27.3%) of the UK’s chart-eligible album ‘sales’ in 2015.

Meanwhile, streaming is now the dominant format in the Official Singles Chart, claiming two-thirds (66.4%) of chart-eligible ‘sales’ last year.

The likes of Beyonce and Drake (pictured) have recently released albums in the UK, for which streaming has had a hefty impact on chart performance.

The BPI‘s Music Market 2016 report also shows that the cash coming into labels from UK CD sales fell by 3.9% last year, while download revenue fell 13.5%.

Overall, traditional transactional album sales fell by 6.2%. Sales of digital singles fell 14.7%.

As reported last week, audio streams in the UK market grew by 82% to 26.6bn in the year, yet video music streams grew faster, by 88%, to 26.9bn.

The average number of weekly UK audio streams increased to more than 500 million in the year, while 173 tracks were streamed over 10m times (compared to 73 in 2014).

Adele’s 25 racked up 800,000 sales in its week of release, growing to a UK total of 2.5m copies in just six weeks by the year-end.

Ed Sheeran’s X sold a fraction under 1 million UK sales in 2015, and this along with Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour both passed 2 million lifetime UK sales during the course of the year.

Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream sold 880,000 copies (94 per cent CD).

The BPI’s Music Market 2016 provides an in-depth look at a host of indices and metrics, including analysis of industry income; sales by type of music, genre and nationality; best-selling artists & releases; retailer share and consumer demographics; and many other insights. It is available for £90 from the BPI’s shop or Business Worldwide

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