Soaring Music Streams Drive Investment in UK Artists

Recorded music streams accounted for more than 80% of music consumption in the UK last year, up to 139bn from 114bn in 2019. 

According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), 2020 marked the sixth successive year of increased music consumption, with the equivalent of 155 million albums sold throughout the year. Several UK artists contributed to the most streamed songs and albums of the year. Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi topped the charts, providing the sountrack to an otherwise forgettable year with the album, “Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.” 

Other top 10 artist albums of 2020 show the sense of nostalgia that gripped the nation, with re-releases of Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Elton John, and unprecedented streaming numbers for Oasis and Amy Winehouse, showing consumers seeking comfort in the music of previous decades.

How we listened to music in 2020

Changes to how we consume our music, and the boom of music streams, are hardly surprising given Covid’s temporary decimation of the live music industry.

The UK’s best-performing artists racked up half a billion streams last year while nearly 200 UK artists achieved around 200 million streams. The top 500 – 1,000 ranking artists are seeing between 21 and 43 million annual streams, a success which industry voices attribute to increased investment in new acts (known as Artist and Repertoire spend).

There have been some surprising success stories in fringe markets of the industry. Cassette sales doubled from last year to 157,000 copies, and vinyl sales increased for the 13th consecutive year by 11.5% to 4.8 million copies. But despite this retro renaissance, music streams, via services like Spotify, Deezer and YouTube, Music, continue to lead the charge in how we consume our music. 

Music streams drives investment in UK artists

The primacy of music streams as the preferred means of consumption emphasises the need for record labels to keep investing in Artists and Repertoire marketing and promotion.

At Revolver Records, we reinvest revenue from our deep catalogue into promoting new artists and producing new music. We are proud to represent a rich vein of British talent, from internationally renowned guitarists Pete Kent and Lee Wrathe to legendary metal bands Cloven Hoof and Witchfinder General. Our recent signings hail from all over the world, from Finland and Denmark to the USA. 

Discover Revolver’s Featured Artists

Geoff Taylor BPI music streams investing in new artists

The New Year will see us push ahead in our promotional and marketing campaigns, giving the artists the exposure their music deserves across social, digital and conventional media platforms. 

Major labels such as Universal, Sony and Warner are generating around $1 million an hour from global streams, and reinvesting 40% back into A&R. While the live music sector remains shuttered, the key to the music industry’s success in the coming years will be for them to take greater risks – widening the pool in which they invest and allocating more stream-generated income to the artists.

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