Sales Analysis – 2015

This post is a little late this year, but at some point in the first half of a new year, I normally like to take a bit of time to muse over the main headlines relating to the music “industry” in the preceding year. In case you missed them, here are the reports for 2014, 2013, and 2012 respectively.

If you still download music, you’re a dinosaur

The internet transformed the music industry from around 2004 onwards, initially with just illegal downloads, and then, until a couple of years ago, an explosion of legal downloads. That was starting to change in 2014, and by last year, the download was as dead as a dodo.

The number of streamed tracks has pretty much been doubling year-on-year recently, and the trend continued with 26.8 billion streams last year. Audio streaming now accounts for 22.1% of all music consumption in the UK.

I’m a dinosaur, apparently, by the way. There are far too many CD cases in my house already…

Revenues are on the up again

Overall music industry revenues in the UK had been steadily dropping for the entirety of the last decade – sales have continued to slump, streaming hardly contains any money for anyone except the people who make the app, and only live revenues have been increasing in a meaningful way.

This year, for the first time in a very long time, revenues did actually climb by an impressive 3.5%. Which still only puts them back to 2012 levels (that’s barely more than half of what they were in 2005), but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. There’s some detailed analysis and number-crunching here.

Germany, always a strong market, grew by 3.9%, meaning their music industry is now comfortably in third place, with the UK in fourth place, and the USA and Japan in number 1 and 2 respectively. While the Germans celebrate their luck (or happiness), Billboard magazine was rather more pessimistic about the situation in the US.

Everybody loves vinyl

Back in 2012, I questioned the repeated reports of a “vinyl explosion”, as the numbers didn’t seem to back it up. Every year since, I seem to have been proved entirely wrong, which just goes to show what I know. This year saw growth of 64%, meaning it broke the 2 million mark.

Last year’s total (1.3 million) was the highest since 1995, and this year’s is “the biggest for 21 years” (which may mean we’ve now beaten 1995 too).

Having said that, according to a recent Mark Radcliffe show, half of people who buy vinyl never actually listen to it, so the current resurgence may not last forever…

Two-thirds of albums sold are still on CD

Given that the CD format was officially pronounced dead about a decade ago, album sales are still surprisingly healthy. They dropped by just 3.9% from the previous year, which is far slower than it used to be. In fact, I suspect CD album sales are still roughly around the levels they were at in the early 1990s, which really isn’t that bad after all, although it’s difficult to judge, as the only figures I’ve seen prior to 2000 are for “deliveries” rather than sales.

Everybody loves Adele

Adele‘s comeback sold 2.5 million copies in its first 6 weeks, meaning more people bought that album shortly after it came out than bought an LP over the entire year. Yes, apparently she managed to sell 3.1% of all music sold in 2015. Which is quite impressive, to say the least. More on that here.

Understanding that makes it rather less surprising that 13.7% of all music consumed globally is British (I think the article is actually for the preceding year, but the trend is definitely positive), and that 53.5% of music sold in the UK is homegrown. Which is very healthy indeed.

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