BPI CEO hails UK's growing appetite for music, with consumption up 2.5% in 2021

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, according to official figures released today (January 4) by the BPI.

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

In 2021, nearly 2,000 artists (1,918) were streamed over 10 million times in the UK (excluding global streams, which tend to be four times greater). This compares with 1,798 in 2020 and 1,537 in 2019. Additionally, over 14 million CDs and 5.3 million vinyl LPs were purchased last year, 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.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, commented: “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.

“Modern artists strive to build the biggest possible global audience and utilise 24/7 digital marketing to stand out in the streaming era. Record labels help bring artists’ creative visions to life and the hundreds of millions of pounds labels invest in the UK each year is supporting the emergence of a new wave of musicians connecting with millions of fans all over the world.

“Success today is gauged in the multi-millions, sometimes billions of streams, which generate micropayments that build over time, in line with relative popularity and demand from fans. This year’s growth shows there is a huge appetite for music and we believe that by working together we can increase the value of the whole music market, so that streaming can support even more artists in the future.”