CD sales hit crisis point as UK listeners clear their shelves for streaming


New figures suggest that UK listening trends have dropping CDs for streaming as GetintothisWill Whitby dives into the data.

As global listening trends are seeming to be ditching the CDs for streaming services, the humble CD is in a bit of a crisis. They’re not as attractive and “chique” as their vinyl counterparts and their inconvenience of freedom has meant CDs are now seemingly pretty obsolete.  

The method of music listening has now swapped from an “ownership” model to an “access” model. Almost gone are the days of collecting your music in draws and on shelves as modern listeners now prefer to just want to be granted access to their music through streaming services to safe up shelf space. 

These trends have reflected on sales and revenue figures too as sales of CDs plummeted by 23% in 2018 according to the BPI. Just 32 million CDs were sold in 2018, it still sounds like a big number but that is almost 100 million fewer than in 2008 with sales dropping an average of 9.6 million every year.

Flip that over to the streaming figures from Spotify and Apple Music where over 91 billion tracks were streamed in 2018 – the equivalent of 1,300 songs per person in the UK . Streaming now accounts for 64% of all music consumption in the UK with an estimated retail value of £1.33 billion according to the BPI. 

According to international music board IFPI, the UK market is the quickest growing music market in all of Europe showing a 6% growth last year in their global music report.

IFPI reveals recorded music industry now worth £14.6bn as UK becomes the globe’s third largest market

Vinyl however, has seen a flourish in recent years as vinylphiles return to the plastic discs to garner tastes of ownership, nostalgia and physicality to their music collection. 

The sales of records grew for their 11th consecutive year in 2018 with 4.2 million vinyl LPs sold in the UK (BPI). With record stores returning to the high street and shops like HMV stocking more and more vinyl, the British people have been returning to the joy of it. 

Although taking some criticism from labels and indie stores, projects like Record Store Day have thrusted records back into the public eye. Records are no longer seen as clunky and tiresome and now offer a physical ownership and massive collectability to ones music collection. 

Record Store Day 2019 in Liverpool – reaction from Probe, 81 Renshaw and Phase One & more

The sales of vinyl grew 6% globally with the plastic discs now harnessing around 3% of the global music consumption (IFPI)- it doesn’t sound like much but its a vast growth from the 0.4% of 15 years ago.  

Cassettes too have seen a whopping 94% growth in sales in the UK according to the BPI but don’t be fooled as only 35,000 were sold. 

Figures are now only gradually emerging for 2019 but it seems like the UK market is growing even more. Figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association has shown that UK music fans spent £672.7 million on physical music and streaming services in the first half of 2019- a whopping 9.9% growth on the first half of 2018.

The signs are looking good though as UMG’s vinyl sales increased by 31.2% for the first half of 2019. It seems that modern day stars like Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi are drawing the youth back to the record shelves and established artists like Queen and Joy Division still pull in the numbers. 

Phase One during Record Store Day

Here is the Top 20 Vinyl Chart of 2019 so far with the data taken from the Official Charts Company. 

  1. QueenGreatest Hits
  2. Billie EilishWhen We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go
  3. Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures
  4. Fleetwood MacRumours
  5. Lewis Capaldi Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent.
  6. Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon
  7. David BowieLegacy
  8. The Greatest Showman OST
  9. FoalsEverything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt 1
  10. Bohemian Rhapsody OST
  11. NirvanaNevermind
  12. Bruce Springsteen Western Stars
  13. Oasis What’s The Story Morning Glory
  14. Amy Winehouse Back To Black
  15. SpecialsEncore
  16. Billie EilishDon’t Smile At Me
  17. Catfish & The BottlemenThe Balance
  18. Guardians Of The GalaxyAwesome Mix OST
  19. Bring Me The HorizonAmo
  20. George EzraStaying At Tamara’s




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