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X and Streaming Mark the Spot

As download sales peak and streaming rises, it wouldn’t be a New Year without a glance back at 2014’s biggest industry stats- so hold on tight for a predictable parade of Spotify, Sheeran and Swift.

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) reported that last year, the UK download sector dropped by 14.9% to £338.1 million, whilst streaming revenues increased by 65.1%, contributing £106m to the industry. Despite the so-called ‘vinyl revival’ (the format still only accounts for 2% of the UK music market with 1.2m sales last year), physical sales dipped by 4.9% and as a result the UK record industry saw an overall slight decrease of 1.6% in 2014.

The scrobble has been on the wall for some time in the US, with iTunes sales stalling but 2014 seemed to represent a turning point or at least the first step on the road to Damascus for streaming- no doubt triggering a further year of debate around artist royalty payments and how such services can hit a mid-priced streaming sweet spot. Inevitably, this will be peppered with faintly ridiculous comments from Billy Bragg and Thom Yorke.

Despite kicking up a Spotify storm in 2014, Taylor Swift started the year with her (admittedly excellent) pop album ‘1989’ at the top of the charts in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, also sitting in the top five of several other territories as reported here in Music Week.

Ed Sheeran’s second album ‘x’ was the biggest selling album of 2014 and also the fourth best selling overall entertainment release of the year in the UK, usurped only by the DVD release of Disney film Frozen and the latest installments of the Call of Duty and FIFA video game franchises. Significantly, Sheeran was also the only music entry in the top ten entertainment releases, though Now that’s what I call music 89 crept in at number 11. You can see the complete list and find out more here. Sheeran has now shifted over 1.7m copies of the album in the UK alone and is playing three dates at Wembley Stadium this summer.

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