Vinyl Is Raking in More Revenue for the British Music Industry Than YouTube

YouTube continues to pay less than most other streaming platforms, according to the BPI (along with every other music industry trade body).  But that’s not the only category that’s beating YouTube.

The numbers keep saying the same thing.

According to a full-year 2018 report from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), paid streaming revenue overtook physical and download revenue for the first time in the UK.

The ERA found that 62.1% of all British music revenue last year came from paid subscription streaming.  Just 37.9% came from physical sales and digital downloads.

That number falls mostly in line with a similar report from the RIAA.  Paid subscription streaming in the U.S. remained the biggest driver of increased revenue last year for the American music industry at $4.7 billion, up 33% over 2017.

Now, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has published its own study for the full year of 2018.

Once again, Subscription Streaming > Physical + Download Sales.

The BPI found that paid subscription streams accounted for 54% of British labels’ income last year.  Revenue from these streams grew 34% over 2017 to £468 million ($614 million).

Overall streaming music revenue grew to £516 million ($687 million).  Ad-funded streams (Spotify, Deezer, etc.) grew 25.8% to £19 million ($25 million).

Revenue from video streams (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) rose 9.9% to £29.7 million ($39 million).  The BPI noted that YouTube delivered more than 30 billion streams in 2018: “This would have been greater still had video streaming platforms, predominantly YouTube, generated a great deal more than just £29.7 million in return for an estimated 30 billion-plus annual plays of music videos in the UK,” the organization stated.

CD sales plummeted 28.4% to £240.7 million ($316 million).  Downloads also saw a similarly sharp decline, falling 27.9% to £81.5 million ($107 million).  Sync licensing brought in £25.5 million ($33.5 million) in revenue.

Amazingly, vinyl sales saw a slight 3.7% increase to £57.1 million ($75 million), nearly double that of video streams.

That’s an impressive difference, though sadly, vinyl is still a small piece of the overall recording pie.  According to the BPI, overall revenue for 2018 grew 3.1% to £865.5 million ($1.1 billion), with vinyl comprising a 6.6% slice.

The BPI states that overall recording revenues have grown 20% for the British music industry in the past three years.  Yet, this number remains far from the peak growth the industry brought in 18 years ago – £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2001.

Also worth noting is that growth is clearly slowing year-over-year.  Unfortunately — or perhaps predictably — streaming’s hockey stick acceleration is slowing down, especially in major markets like the UK.

That’s led to fears that broader growth is now flattening, or even worse, ebbing downward.  Then again, this is an industry that nearly cratered a few years ago — and suddenly finds itself on some streaming terra firma.

Speaking about the findings, Geoff Taylor, BPI’s Chief Executive, wrote,

The recorded music industry in the UK is showing consistent growth, driven by investment in new talent, innovative global marketing, and offering music fans outstanding choice, convenience and value.

Yet, Taylor also called on the government to tackle various problems that have created uncertainty in the industry.

Long-term growth depends on robust government action to tackle the value gap, promote investment, ensure online platforms take responsible action to reduce infringement, and secure the future talent pipeline by giving state school pupils the opportunity to discover and develop their talent.”


Featured image by Elisa Lataster (CC by 2.0).