Lewis Capaldi leads lockdown rise in music consumption

It has been a time when music fans have been stuck inside, unable to attend live gigs or music festivals.

Lewis Capaldi with the Brit Award for British Album of the Year and the Brit Award for Best New Artist in the press room at the Brit Awards 2020 held at the O2 Arena, London.
Lewis Capaldi with the Brit Award for British Album of the Year and the Brit Award for Best New Artist in the press room at the Brit Awards 2020 held at the O2 Arena, London.

But lockdown has fuelled a boom in listening to music at home as new figures showed that recorded music consumption in the UK rose by 8.2 per cent last year, with 155 million albums or their equivalent either streamed or purchased by fans.

New data from record label association the BPI showed that demand dipped at the beginning of the first lockdown, then rose throughout the year.

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Scots singer Lewis Capaldi boasted the most popular album of 2020, followed by Harry Styles and Dua Lipa.

The BPI said that the increase in consumption had been achieved despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating effect on the live sector, with all live events banned for the majority of 2020, along with nightclubs and festivals.

With nearly 200 artists achieving over 100 million streams or more in the UK over the past 12 months, their success contributed to an overall total of 139 billion audio streams in 2020, up by more than a fifth. Streaming now accounts for four-fifths of UK music consumption, with people of all ages using it for their daily music choices, but also collecting their favourite albums on CD, vinyl and other physical formats.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize, said: “A new wave of British talent is capitalising on the immediacy of streaming to achieve fantastic success, measured in the hundreds of millions, even billions of streams. Record labels are investing heavily in new artists to secure the future of British music, boosting the UK’s exports and soft power.”

“The performance of recorded music in 2020 was remarkable, and reminds us how important music is to our country, even when our lives are disrupted. But any satisfaction we can take is tempered by the devastating impact of the pandemic on live music. Recorded music is only one element of artists’ incomes, and we renew our calls on government to support our culturally important venues, nightclubs and festivals until they can safely reopen.”

Capaldi, from Glasgow, along with Styles and Dua Lipa, achieved nearly half a billion streams or more in 2020 in the UK alone and billions more streams globally. His debut album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent finished 2020 as the best-selling album of the year, as it did in 2019. The album was also the sixteenth best-selling album on vinyl this year, and the singer also saw success in the best-selling singles chart, with Before You Go and Someone You Loved, which won Song of the Year at the BRIT Awards 2020.

The report said that demand for CD continued to reflect long-term trends of decline, but, with 16 million copies sold representing 10.3 per cent of recorded music consumption, it added that the format continues to show its resilience and play a key role in shaping chart success. Physical formats remain a ‘kingmaker’ for No.1 albums: in the majority of weeks in 2020, accounting for 50 per cent of chart-eligible sales of the top-selling artist album, while digital albums contributed 5.9 million unit purchases to the overall total.

Official Charts – 2020 best sellers and most streamed

Chart 1 – OFFICIAL ARTIST ALBUMS CHART 2020 – © Official Charts Company

1. Lewis Capaldi ‘Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent’

2. Harry Styles ‘Fine Line’

3. Dua Lipa ‘Future Nostalgia’

4. Billie Eilish ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’

5. Stormzy ‘Heavy Is The Head’

6. Pop Smoke ‘Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon’

7. Ed Sheeran ‘No. 6 Collaborations Project’

8. Queen ‘Greatest Hits’

9. Elton John ‘Diamonds’

10. Fleetwood Mac ’50 Years – Don’t Stop’

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