UK Music Streaming Hits Half Billion Weekly Landmark

Anyone still harbouring doubts about the legitimate status of music streaming will want to take note, as over 500 million songs were streamed in just one week in the UK. With 505 million songs having been streamed in the week ending July 16, it would appear that music streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal and Google Play are breaking even more records, as they continue to revolutionise the way music is consumed.

With artists such as Ed Sheeran and Rihanna leading the way as some of the most popular artist available on streaming services, the numbers for streaming have increased almost double on last year’s figures, in a year that continues to showcase the rise of streaming services. Mark Ronson dominated the most streamed songs for the first half of the year, with over 45 million plays of Up Town Funk.

The viability of streaming services continues to be a strong focus, as many musicians have come out against them for various reasons. The most high profile example of those is Taylor Swift, who has raised concerns about the royalty payments that are received by artists, going as far as removing all of her work from all streaming services. Neil Young was a more recent example, who had his catalogue removed due to complaints about the sound quality offered on streaming platforms, going as far to claim them as the “worst quality in the history of broadcasting”.

With the likes of Spotify and the recently released Apple Music vying for subscribers of their services, the market for streaming continues to rise. Last year a total of 15 billion songs were streamed. With 11.5 billion played so far in the first half of 2015, it is well on track to surpass last year’s figures and reach around 25 billion streams in total across the various platforms. Add in the number for video streaming site YouTube and the number doubles to almost 50 billion.

Industry insiders such as Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry and the Brit Awards, have mentioned how well it speaks for the long term aspirations of streaming services, saying that ”It’s remarkable that we now speak of billions of audio streams per month – it demonstrates vividly just how quickly streaming is being embraced.”

The list of most streamed artists includes the likes of Rihanna, Drake, Sam Smith Hozier, along with top of the list Ed Sheeran, whose songs have been streamed over 170 million times alone. This continuous rise has seen more streaming outlets join the party, with Apple Music and Tidal being two new additions this year along, with rumours of social media giants Facebook possibly trying to get in on the action with rumours of their own services being under way.

Many others have spoken in high regard to the positive direction of steaming, with editor of Music Website Peter Robinson saying

“Half a billion is a huge psychological boundary and suggests that resistance to streaming will soon be confined to a minority, many of whom are audiophiles whose demands may well be addressed as the months and years tick by.

“It also hints at how much music people will choose to listen to if there’s no marginal cost involved in hitting play. This increase in music listening may offset at least some of the money artists, musicians and labels stand to lose as physical formats and paid downloads decline.

“It’ll be interesting to see how the public respond as more services enter the fray over the coming years and music fans have to make a choice about where to spend their monthly £9.99.”

There is doubt as to how this will affect royalties for artists which is an often hot topic in regards to streaming. These numbers offer little answer to this though, as there is no distinction between paid for memberships against free ones.

Tom Pakinkis, the editor of Music Week believes it can bode well for the future of the industry, which continues to evolve in the wake of the decrease of physical sales such as CDs (although LP sales have seen a recent rise in sales). He goes on to explain,

“Streaming is widely regarded as the future by much of the music industry, and the key to returning the business to health once again.

“Spotify’s last official paying subscriber count in June topped 20m – up from 15m in January. So that’s an indicator of how quickly people are discovering streaming – at least for Spotify.

“With the addition of Apple Music to the mix, there’s hope across the industry that growth will continue to accelerate and we’ll soon see streaming become a mass market proposition. Despite the decline of CDs, the UK market is still roughly 60% physical.”

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