The BPI and Official Charts Company have published mid-year figures for the British music market, albeit focusing on consumption rather than revenues.
The headline figure is a 4% year-on-year rise in ‘Album Equivalent Sales’ (AES) for the first half of 2015 – a metric that blends sales with streams, and which saw a decline of 5.8% in the first half of 2014.
It’s streaming’s growth in the UK that stands out from this report though: streams are up 80% in the first half of 2015, with Brits having listened to 11.5bn tracks through services like Spotify, Deezer and Google Play, compared to 14.8bn in the whole of 2014.
The UK is now up to 480m streams a week on audio streaming services, with CEO Geoff Taylor predicting that “the launch of Apple Music will give further impetus to the revolution of music streaming” in the second half of the year.
Note the “audio” there: what’s not included in the AES metric is YouTube and other video services, although the OCC and BPI have been counting them separately. The figures show 12.5bn video streams of music in the first half of 2015, up 98.2% year-on-year.
The sight of YouTube music streams growing faster than audio music streams is likely to cause concern among some rightsholders, especially those who see YouTube as inhibiting the growth of paid music subscriptions.
Are they right? That’s not something this particular set of figures can answer. Indeed, we don’t even know yet what the split is within those 11.5bn audio streams in 2015 between paying subscribers and free listeners on services like Spotify.
The 80% rise looks good in consumption terms, but what it means for value – the bottom line of rightsholders and musicians – remains to be seen. Consumption is not paid for at a flat rate, so we’ll await the end-of-year figures to judge how the volume growth relates to industry revenues.