Data from the BPI and the Official Charts Company show that there are now over 500m streams of music tracks a week in the UK – or close to 1bn if YouTube data was added in. This is almost double the number of streams per week that were happening in January 2014 (276.9m). In February this year, the streaming average crossed over into the 400 millions, steadily rising to 505m for the chart week ending 16th July.
Last year there were 14.8bn streams in the UK but, based on the growth trajectory since then (and the fact there have already been 11.5bn streams in the first six months of this year), the BPI and OCC are projecting that there will be 25bn streams by the end of this year. A total of 59 tracks were streamed 10m+ times each in the period.
The most streamed track in the first half of the year was the perniciously unavoidable ‘Uptown Funk’ while the most streamed artist was Ed Sheeran, with over 100m streams of his songs. Squeezed into the middle of the BPI’s press release is a fascinating figure: if the OCC counted YouTube and other video streams towards the chart (which it currently does not), then the cumulative total of streams this year in the UK would shoot past 50bn. This all begs the question of when video streaming, given it is as big as audio streaming, will be added into the chart.
YouTube streams count towards the US chart, for example, but the OCC has chosen to tread a more cautious path here as there are tabulation complications because the service offers a mix of both officially uploaded videos as well as ones ripped and uploaded by users. There are also, within the industry, some serious reservations about the validity of YouTube streaming numbers (to mention nothing of the low royalty payment rates). Should such streams make their way into the UK charts, there will surely also be calls for native Facebook video streams – especially given that the service is on the cusp of monetising these videos – to be included too.
Until that happens, we are literally only being shown half of the UK streaming music picture.