Very few people in the music industry want to tempt fate by publicly hailing the return of boom times. However, there are indications that 2017 could turn out to be the most impressive year of growth yet in our industry’s recent resurgence.

The publication of first-half figures from the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) yesterday was the latest piece of evidence.

According to ERA, music retail spending – including sales and streaming subscriptions – grew by 11.2% year-on-year to £564.7m in the first half of 2017.

That compares well to the 8.4% growth in games and 1.2% growth in video, although music continues to be the smallest of the three categories – games generated £1.44bn of retail spending in the first half of this year, while video generated £990m. 75.4% of the overall entertainment spending was digital: a new high.

The obvious caveat to music’s growth is the question about the Ed Sheeran factor. His ‘Divide’ album has sold more than 2m units in the UK this year, making it the biggest-selling entertainment product by some distance: films Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were second and third with more than a million units each.

Rag’n’Bone Man’s ‘Human’ (694k units) and Now That’s What I Call Music 96 (530k) were the only other albums inside the top 20.

Has ‘Divide’ provided a bump for music sales that won’t be matched in the second half of 2017, or will other big-name artists come through with album releases that can keep the double-digit growth going?

What’s encouraging is the role being played by streaming subscriptions underpinning the growth, rather than individual releases. And this is a trend that stretches well beyond the UK.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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