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2023 a record-breaking year for women in music, says BPI

Female artists spent the most weeks at No.1 on the Official Singles Chart in a calendar year since the countdown launched in 1952, the BPI has reported.

Led by Miley Cyrus’s 10-week chart-topper Flowers, women secured a record-breaking 31 out of 52 weeks leading the Official Singles Chart in 2023. This was due to a mix of UK domestic successes including Dua Lipa (Dance The Night), Ellie Goulding (Miracle with Calvin Harris), Kenya Grace (Strangers) and RAYE (Escapism ft 070 Shake), and international artists such as Billie Eilish (What Was I Made For?), Doja Cat (Paint The Town Red), Olivia Rodrigo(Vampire) and Taylor Swift (Is It Over Now (Taylor’s Version)).

Based on combined streaming and sales activity, four of 2023’s five biggest tracks and seven of the year’s Top 10 were by women, with Cyrus’s Flowers at No.1 for the year joined by hits from fellow US superstars SZA (Kill Bill) and Taylor Swift (Anti-Hero), Cameroonian-American singer Libianca (People) and UK artists Ellie Goulding (Miracle with Calvin Harris), PinkPantheress (Boy’s A Liar) and RAYE (Escapism ft 070 Shake). It marked the greatest domination of a year-end Top 10 by women in more than 70 years of the Official Singles Chart.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, BPI chief executive, said: “Whilst work continues towards achieving full representation for women across the music industry, 2023 has been a brilliant year for women in the Official Charts. There is a more diverse range of recording artists than ever achieving great success with the backing of their labels. Women spent more weeks at No.1 on the Official Singles Chart than in any previous year, while seven of the ten biggest tracks were by women. This should be celebrated, but without complacency, and our work in the music industry continues to ensure that this becomes the norm.”

Thirteen of the year’s Top 20 tracks were by women, including UK artists Dua Lipa (Dance The Night), Ella Henderson (React with Switch Disco),PinkPantheress (Boy’s A Liar) and Venbee (Messy In Heaven with Goddard), alongside global stars including SZA (Kill Bill), Bebe Rexha (I’m Good (Blue) with David Guetta, Libianca (People), Olivia Rodrigo (Vampire) and Taylor Swift (Anti-Hero and Cruel Summer).

In addition, nearly half (48.5%) of the tracks that reached the Top 10 of the weekly Official Singles Chart last year were by women, either solo or in collaboration with other artists. This represented their highest annual share of Top 10 hits this century. As a reflection of this dominance, solo women artists claimed the top three positions for a record-breaking six consecutive weeks on the Official Singles Chart during August and September last year.

The UK’s streaming market hit another record high in 2023 with 179.6 billion audio streams accumulated across the 12 months. This was up 12.8% on the previous year and nearly double the total achieved five years earlier. Streaming now makes up 87.7% of the market, compared to 63.6% in 2018. This led a ninth consecutive annual rise in UK recorded music consumption overall, with sales and streams combined increasing by 10.0% to 182.8 million albums (or their equivalent) in 2023.

The continuing rise in streaming numbers prompted the BPI – which is also behind the BRIT Certified Platinum, Gold & Silver Awards – to introduce the BRIT Billion Award in 2023, recognising artists who have achieved more than one billion career streams in the UK alone. To date, nearly 30 artists have been honoured, including Ed Sheeran with 10 billion UK streams, The Rolling Stones and Queen as well as other British artists such as AJ Tracey, Becky Hill, Coldplay, RAYE, Rita Ora and Sam Smith. With a significant number of artists surpassing the one billion threshold, success in streaming is now measured in the tens and hundreds of millions a year, if not more, and thousands are attaining this level of success and the rewards and career progression that comes with it.

Last year was also a big year for physical music sales, with vinyl LP purchases rising for the 16th consecutive year in the UK.