UK recorded music consumption (AES) is up 9.5% so far in 2023.
Music Week’s analysis is based on exclusive market figures and sales data from the Official Charts Company and the BPI.
According to BPI data, the half-year results show that album equivalent sales (AES) reached 89,755,479 for the first six months.
The increase marks an acceleration of growth at a time when there had been concerns that a maturing streaming market like the UK might be experiencing a slower rate of increase.
The latest Goldman Sachs Music In The Air report underlined the lower rate of UK streaming growth in recent years.
But so far in 2023, streaming growth has surged into double digits again, with the half-year total for streaming equivalent albums (SEA) up 11.3% year-on-year to 79,241,502. That compares with annual growth of 8.7% at the mid-way point last year, and 8.2% for the full year in 2022.
The second quarter was the driver of growth with album equivalent sales (AES) up 11.1% year-on-year and streaming equivalent albums (SEA) up 12.7%. Physical sales actually increased 3.3% year-on-year in Q2, although that was largely down to CD sales being flat in the quarter. Vinyl was up 10.2% in the quarter.
According to the half-year figures, physical sales were flat – down just 0.3% to 7,795,714 – as growth in LPs offset the 5.8% decline in CD sales. For that six-month period, vinyl sales increased by 12.4% year-on-year to 2,714,642 units.
Despite some hype about the format, cassette sales have slipped back in 2023, down 18.2% year-on-year to 73,204 units. However, the format clearly has its uses, not least in helping Kylie Minogue to secure her first solo Top 10 single since 2010.
Sophie Jones, BPI CSO & interim CEO, said: “With demand for LPs up by over 12% across the first six months and CD sales showing signs of stabilising, the physical market is in encouraging shape considering the economic backdrop and the challenges facing the creative sector. It underlines the importance of continuing to push for growth and supporting talent around the country so that even more artists can benefit from the growth in streaming and vinyl.”
The physical market is in encouraging shape considering the economic backdrop and the challenges facing the creative sector
There has also been positive news for physical music sales with HMV’s plan to bring back its London flagship store.
The strong performance for vinyl was led by new releases by Lana Del Rey, Lewis Capaldi, Gorillaz, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Foo Fighters and Boygenius.
Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (Polydor) moved 28,119 vinyl copies in the first six months of the year. The album is No.26 overall so far this year (78,213 sales).
Second place for vinyl sales went to Lewis Capaldi’s Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent (EMI) on 20,019 units.
The vinyl sales rankings are geared towards new and current releases. The Top 8 albums were released or reissued in 2023, with the exception of Taylor Swift’s Midnights (EMI), and even that is still a current release (from October 2022).
Vinyl perennials Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd make up the rest of the Top 10 sellers for the format so far this year.
In contrast, the overall albums sales rankings (covering all formats, including the dominant streaming consumption) have five catalogue titles in the Top 10 for the half-year. That includes the biggest-selling album of the first six months, The Weeknd’s 2021 collection The Highlights (Island/XO/Republic) on 210,533 sales.
The Weeknd is joined by other collections including Elton John’s 2017 release Diamonds (EMI/UMR) at No.5, Eminem’s Curtain Call – The Hits (Polydor) at No.7 and Fleetwood Mac’s 50 Years – Don’t Stop (Rhino) at No.9. The Elton John release received a boost from a legendary Glastonbury performance and new vinyl edition.
In the Official Charts Company’s half-year albums rankings, EMI-signed Lewis Capaldi has two entries in the Top 10: Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent at No.6 (136,987 sales for the half-year) and debut LP, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent at No.10 (118,383 sales for the half-year) – the fifth catalogue title in the upper echelons.
Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent – the fastest-selling album of the year to date – is the biggest 2023 release so far. In the most recent chart, it rebounded 16-3 following Capaldi’s Glastonbury performance.
Other current releases in the half-year Top 10 are: Taylor Swift’s Midnights (No.2), Harry Styles’ Harry’s House (No.3), SZA’s SOS (No.4) and Ed Sheeran’s – (Subtract) at No.8.
For Nos.11-20 in the half-year albums rankings, nine out of 10 titles are catalogue releases including perennials and pre-2022 releases by Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran (both Equals and Divide), ABBA, Oasis, Taylor Swift (1989 and Lover), Queen and Olivia Rodrigo. Pink’s Trustfall is the only 2023 release between 11-20.
For the half-year Top 20, it means that 70% of entries are catalogue titles – the same proportion for the overall Top 20 albums of 2022. The degree to which streaming subscribers are maxing out on old favourites is contributing to the absence of Top 100 breakthroughs, as catalogue crowds out new talent with 2023 debuts…
The biggest UK debut breakthroughs for the first six months are UK rapper Clavish’s mixtape Rap Game Awful (Polydor) at No.68 (48,060) and Raye’s My 21st Century Blues (Human Re Sources/The Orchard) at No.97 (39,287).
Mimi Webb’s debut album Amelia (RCA) is at No.130 (33,581).
Raye’s UK No.1 single Escapism feat. 070 Shake is the second biggest of the first six months on 850,748 sales. It became The Orchard’s first No.1 single earlier this year.
PinkPantheress has also made a singles chart impact with Boy’s A Liar (Warner Records), which is at No.4 overall (730,466).
Messy In Heaven (Columbia) by Venbee & Goddard is at No.11 (541,204).
EMI’s global streaming star Mae Stephens is at No.50 for the first half of 2023 with debut single If We Ever Broke Up (273,608 sales).
Miley Cyrus’ Flowers (RCA) is the biggest single (1,248,655) of the year so far and the only track to pass a million sales in 2023.
Read about the ABBA catalogue campaign – winner at the Music Week Awards 2023.
Click here for our 2022 full-year analysis.