UK Streaming Markets Tops £1 Billion For The First Time

2019 saw the UK’s music streaming market break through the £1 billion ceiling for the first time. Music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music first came to market around a decade ago. Over the period since 2010, the amount Brits spend on music streaming subscription services such as Spotify has multiplied by over 30 times.

The rate of growth in the market also continues apace with its value up 24% between 2018 and 2019. That stunning result, fuelled by the continuing shift towards a digital economy, has taken the market’s value to over £1 billion.

As a whole, the entertainment industry has been one of the quickest to take advantage of the latest technology in the world to digitalise. A perhaps surprising 80% of all UK spending on entertainment is now accounted for by spending on digital services. The figures come from the Entertainment Retailers Association.

The boom in spending on digital entertainment services, particularly streaming services, is maintaining overall growth in the industry despite a sharp drop-off in the sale of albums and singles. Music fans are increasingly choosing to rely on the access to their favourite tracks and musicians a streaming subscription offers them, rather than actually buying music, with sales of both physical music formats and digital downloads falling last year.

CD, vinyl and cassette sales dropped 17% from 2018 to just £318.1 million last year, despite a revival in retro formats. Cassette sales figures reached their highest level in over 15 years in 2019, with more than 80,000 sold over the year, say figures published earlier this week by the British Phonographic Industry.

The rest of the £1.4 billion spent on music over the year was taken up by digital formats. Streaming accounted for the lion’s share.

Entertainment Retailers Association chief executive Kim Bayley views the overall music spending figures as positive, even if they demonstrate a much reduced role for traditional formats. She commented:

“We were pleasantly surprised by the growth that is still being achieved with streaming. There is still a lot of growth to be had because not all demographics have adopted streaming in mainstream terms.”

“The physical numbers hide different trends. Vinyl sales are still increasing and so are collectors’ formats like cassettes, for instance.”

There is also a clear demographic divide when it comes to the popularity of music streaming. The technology accounts for 69% of all music listened to in the 16-19 age group. That contrasts with just a 16% share of listening time for 45 to 54-year-olds. Those figures also come from research conducted by the Entertainment Retailers Association.

The UK’s entertainment industry last year recorded overall growth of 2.4% in 2019, reaching a total value of £7.8 billion. It was the seventh consecutive year of growth. Video streaming was the industry sector that showed the highest growth, up 9.5%, fuelled by the growing popularity of services such as Netflix. That growth is set to continue this year with new video streaming services such as Apple TV+ and Disney+ offering consumers new options.

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