Music Business

Music streaming growth falls 2/3rds in UK, is US next?

Total number of UK music streams grew by 7.9 billion or just 5.7% to 147.2 billion in 2021 according to BPI, Britain’s top recorded music trade group.

By comparison, in 2020 total annual audio streams in the UK rose by 25.1 billion vs. 2019. That was the largest YoY increase in streams in the UK’s history, according to MBW. In 2019, annual growth was 23.3 billion streams.

This charts from MBW tells the story.

Is the US next?

MBW smartly points out that Spotify launched in the USA in 2011 almost three years after its 2008 UK launch.

Clearly the US is not yet a saturated streaming market. US music streaming revenue grew 26% YoY in the first half of 2021, according to the latest data shared by the RIAA.

But can the US sustain that growth a year or two from now?

So far Spotify and others are also finding plenty of growth opportunities other global markets, but that to has it limits. This is likely why many of the streamers are rolling out very robust subscription at half the usual $9.99 (voice only music plans from Apple and Amazon) or even new free money losing plans like TIDAL’s.

Many in the music industry worry that the addition of lower priced and free music offerings will lead to less revenue for artists and labels.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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