Album sales are off to a flying start this year, with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Rag’N’Bone Man, Take That and Stormzy contributing to a 10.7% rise year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017. That’s according to the Official Charts Company (OCC) and the BPI, who use an ‘album equivalent’ calculation to factor in audio streaming figures. Within this, the OCC takes the 12 most-streamed tracks from an album, with the top two songs being given lesser weight so that the figure will reflect the popularity of the album as a whole rather than a couple of successful singles- The adjusted total is divided by 1000 and added to the album sales figure.
Compared with Q1 of last year, the first quarter of 2017 saw audio streams increase by 55.6%, from 9,718,085,600 to 15,122,154,600.
The quarter as a whole reflected a now familiar arc, with streaming growing dramatically, physical album sales down 4.2% year-on-year and digital downloads of albums dropping off a cliff by 23.5% for the period. Vinyl sales rose by 35.8% on Q1 2016 from 637,056 to 865,285.
BPI Director of Research Chris Green commented: “A number of high profile releases, not least from Ed Sheeran and Take That, combined with major album debuts from Rag’N’Bone Man and Stormzy helped shape the market and get 2017 off to a positive start, with Album Equivalent Sales up by more than 10% on the same period in 2016”.
Green continued: “Showcased to great effect by the BRITs, it was also encouraging that many of these titles were not only heavily streamed, but sold well on physical and download formats to underline the strong multi-channel dynamic of UK music consumption right now. The resilience of CD was again evident through a soft year-on-year decline of just 6%, while vinyl LP continued on its upward path, rising by well over a third”.
This doesn’t ignore the fact that the metrics for incorporating streaming tracks into the charts aren’t working, evidenced by Ed Sheeran tracks recently occupying 16 of the top 20 spots in the official singles charts. No doubt it will take more than one positive quarter to cease chatter about the ‘death of the album’.
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