Digital music downloads continued to grow in the UK in 2013, but in the US the platform recorded its first ever decline.
UK industry body the BPI and the Official Charts Company report that 32.6 million albums were downloaded last year, a 6.8% increase on 2012 and more than 100% up on the level of five years ago. Overall music sales stayed above the £1bn mark, down 0.5% at £1,043m.
By contrast, Nielsen SoundScan’s annual US review found that digital track sales fell 5.7% from 1.34 billion units to 1.26 billion, while digital album sales fell 0.1% to 117.6 million units from the previous year’s total of 117.7 million.
Streaming’s popularity continued its sharp rise on both sides of the Atlantic, as did sales of vinyl discs, albeit still as a small sector of the market.
The BPI calculated that the value of premium-account subscriptions to audio streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer exceeded the £100m mark for the first time, at £103m compared with £77m in 2012, and now accounting for 10% of the music market. The organisation pointed out that this does not include advertising revenue from free services or audiovisual streaming sites such as YouTube.
Nielsen has yet to release its streaming figures but it is expected that revenue from this platform will have increased enough to offset the overall 1% decline in download sales.
CD sales in the UK were down 12.8% on 2012 but still account for 64% of the music market, while in the US the format drop was 14.5%, still 57.2% of the market, and overall album sales there fell 8.4%.
The BPI/OCC survey showed vinyl sales up 101% on 2012 and over 270% on five years ago, the 780,000 LP albums being the largest unit sales figure since 1997. Nielsen found reported US vinyl sales of 6 million, up from 4.55 million in 2012 but still only 2% of the market.
In the UK compilations were particularly successful, Now That’s What I Call Music 86 being 2013’s overall best seller across all formats, shifting 1.1 million copies. One Direction’s Midnight Memories was the biggest-selling artist album of the year, shifting 685,000 copies in six weeks to make it the fastest-selling title of the year.
Bastille’s Bad Blood was the biggest seller among downloaded artist albums, while Arctic Monkeys were the most popular artists for streaming and vinyl purchases.
The BPI and OCC release classical sales figures later in the year.