Vinyl trend and Ed Sheeran help slow physical music sales decline in 2017

Alys Key
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Music consumption hit a high this year, with vinyl an increasingly large part of the picture (Source: Getty)

The popularity of vinyl records helped to slow the decline in physical music sales last year, as the trend broke through to the mainstream.

Vinyl sales rocketed by 26.8 per cent in 2017, according to UK music industry body BPI. This means LPs now account for one in 10 physical music sales in the UK.

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Total physical sales continued to decline, but at a slower rate. Figures compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) showed that physical formats of music, video and games declined by 7.2 per cent, half the rate recorded in 2016.

“Physical may no longer be the default option for many people that it once was, but it remains a substantial £2bn business," said ERA chief executive Kim Bayley. "Where physical really comes into its own is where it offers something distinctive and additional to the content, whether it be the tactile experience of vinyl or the simple fact that physical objects work well as gifts."

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Ed Sheeran sold best across all music formats, including vinyl. His album Divide topped the annual vinyl chart, which also included old favourites such as Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Amy Winehouse's Back to Black.

The news came at the end of a year of record-breaking levels of music consumption. According to the BPI, streaming levels increased to 68.1bn tracks, meaning the format accounted for more than half of the UK's music consumption. In December, a new milestone was passed as 1.5bn tracks were audio streamed during a single week.

BPI's chief executive Geoff Taylor called on the government to ensure artists can tour freely after Brexit and to clamp down on illegal sites. "If we do this, the future for British music, which is already one of our leading exports, will be very bright," he said.

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