UK Record Industry is growing but album sales decline
UK consumers spent £1.33bn on recorded music in 2018, an annual increase of over £100m for the second year in a row.

This growth, up 8.9% year-on-year, was driven by an impressive 37.7% rise in subscription streaming revenues, which hit £829.1m last year, according to preliminary data from the Entertainment Retailers’ Association (ERA).

Such positive results, however, masked a torrid year for the traditional album in the UK – during a 12 months which ended with the news that Britain’s biggest specialist entertainment retailer, HMV, had fallen into administration.

According to new BPI data crunched by MBW, total yearly UK album unit sales (across CD, vinyl and download) dropped by a whopping 13.2m (-22.1%) in 2018.

That’s a steeper annual album sales decline than the equivalent drop seen in 2017 (-9.1m), 2016 (-12.8m), 2015 (-5.4m), 2014 (-7.1m) or 2013 (-6.3m).

You’d have to rewind all the way back to 2012 to find a year where overall album unit sales declined to the same degree (-13.2m).

UK album download unit sales were down 26.3% to just 10.2m in 2018, while CD sales fell 23.1% to 32m. And to cap it off, the vinyl revival appears to be losing its shine: after a decade of growth, UK vinyl album sales grew by just 1.6% last year to 4.2m.

On a value basis, physical music sales were down 16.6% to £383.2m last year, according to ERA.

Back to the good news: the rise in the overall UK market – all thanks to streaming – meant that recorded music enjoyed its fourth successive year of growth in 2018.

The UK music sector is now 30% bigger than it was at its 2014 low-point of £1.03bn, but it is still far off its 2001 peak of £2.11bn.

The £829.1m generated by music streaming services in 2018 was more than double the same figure two years prior (£406.6m).

According to MBW