British artists have filled the entire top 10 bestselling albums chart for 2014 in the UK for the first time.
Figures compiled by BPI, the trade body representing the British music industry, show that British artists have dominated album sales in the past 12 months, with the chart topped by Ed Sheeran whose second album X sold 1.7m copies – the highest album sales since Adele’s 21 in 2011.
Sheeran was closely followed by the multi-award-winning debut from Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour, which shifted 1.25m copies, while other big sellers of 2014 included George Ezra’s first album in third, Paolo Nutini, Coldplay and One Direction. Pink Floyd’s Endless River, the band’s first studio album in 20 years, also made it into the top 10. The only female artist to make it into the chart was the pop-soul singer Paloma Faith, with her album A Perfect Contradiction.
This is the 10th year in a row that a British artist has topped the annual UK album bestsellers chart, following on from One Direction in 2013. Commenting on the notably strong year for British music, Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI and Brit awards, described the success as remarkable and said the business was postitioned to expand further this year. “Our record labels are backing home-grown talent like Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra, who in turn are catching fire around the world.”
But the success of individual artists was not enough to compensate for the continued decline in album sales overall, further confirming the predictions of industry pundits and even the head of music at Radio One, George Ergatoudis, that the format is heading towards extinction. There were 29.7m albums downloaded in 2014, down 9% on the year before, while 52.7m CDs were bought – a drop of almost 7%.
The changing shape of the music industry was also underlined by the growing importance of streaming. The figures disclosed that the number of tracks streamed in Britain doubled in 2014, up from 7.5bn in 2013 to 14.8bn in 2014. Revenue from streaming in Britain this year was up 65% to £175m – overtaking revenue from single sales and downloads for the first time.
This year was the first time that streams were included alongside downloads and physical sales in the Official Top 40 charts.
One Direction were among the musicians who achieved 1bn streams on Spotify upon the release of their album Four in November, joining the ranks of fellow Brits Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Coldplay, while Mark Ronson’s track Uptown Funk broke the record for the most streamed track in a single week, with 2.5m plays in the final week of December.
The shift in the way people are now consuming music could prove an interesting dilemma for artists such as Taylor Swift, who this year took her entire music back catalogue from the leading streaming service Spotify in protest that artists are only paid between around $0.006 and $0.0084 per song play.
The increase in revenue from streaming was so great this year it almost completely offset the decline in album and single sales, ensuring that this year the total retail value of albums, singles and streams dropped by only 1.6% to £1.03bn.
The streaming market is set to become more competitive this year with Apple launching its iTunes Beats streaming service and Google’s YouTube Music Key also set to launch, to compete with the likes of Spotify and Pandora.
Official artist albums chart 2014
1. Ed Sheeran, X
2. Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour
3. George Ezra, Wanted on Voyage
4. Paolo Nutini, Caustic Love
5. Coldplay, Ghost Stories
6. Paloma Faith, A Perfect Contradiction
7. One Direction, Four
8. Olly Murs, Never Been Better
9. Pink Floyd, The Endless River
10. Take That, III
Official charts most streamed artists 2014
1. Ed Sheeran
2. Sam Smith
3. Arctic Monkeys
5. Calvin Harris
7. One Direction
9. Katy Perry
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