The continued growth of music streaming has seen the amount of music listened to in the U.K. grow in 2021

Official figures released by record labels’ association the BPI, based on Official Charts Company data1, show that recorded music consumption in the UK rose by 2.5% in 2021, with 159 million albums or their equivalent either streamed or purchased across all formats by music fans.

The UK consumption total was made up primarily of streams, comprising over 147 billion individual audio streams, up 5.7% on 2020 – and representing an equivalent of 132 million streamed albums (up 5.7%).

The ongoing growth in demand for music, fuelled by continuous record label support for artists and investment into new music, is great news not just for fans, who enjoy more choice than ever, but for artists of all backgrounds and eras – with many more now able to develop and sustain successful careers in music.

In 2021 nearly 2,000 artists (1,918) were streamed over 10 million times in the UK (excluding global streams, which tend to be x4 greater). This compares with 1,798 in 2020 and 1,537 in 2019, up a quarter in two years. It means nearly twice as many artists are now earning meaningful royalties as could do so in the CD era.

Additionally, there were over 14 million CDs and 5.3 million vinyl LPs purchased, with 185,000 cassettes sold and 4.6 million album downloads.

Overall, streaming now accounts for 83% of UK music consumption, while vinyl LPs represent over a quarter of all purchases on physical format.

It was also another strong year for homegrown talent, with UK artists Adele, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Dave, Elton John, Queen and Fleetwood Mac accounting for eight of the year’s top 10 albums.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “As our lives continue to be disrupted, the past 12 months have reminded us again of the important role that recorded music plays in our lives. At the same time, 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.”


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