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SOLO MEN RULE U.K. MUSIC. WHY?

 

This revealing graph show how music trends have shifted in the U.K. since 2000, with the appetite for male solo artists rocketing at the expense of groups, as seen in a story published by The Times. Adele aside, female soloists haven’t fared so well either.

Last year, male solo artists like Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man, Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Sam Smith accounted for 46% of album sales in Blighty. That’s the highest share since figures were recorded in 2000, when that stat was a tad above 30%, according to figures provided by trade body BPI and the Official Charts Co.

In 2000, male groups started with a 37% share of the market, rising to a 45% peak in 2005 (Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs, Westlife) and since dropping to 33%.

Female solo artists started at 18% in 2000, peaking at 31% in 2011 when Adele released her second album, 21, and since dropping to a comparatively tiny 13% albums market share.

Mixed male and female groups have dipped to 6% from 11% over the last 17 years, while female groups have maintained a fairly even keel at just 3%.

The Times story considers whether shrinking music industry revenues are behind the trend, which has shifted power from “marketing executives who favour groups, toward music producers who prefer working with soloists.” Another theory is that it's simply cheaper to maintain a solo career over that of a group.

As broadcaster Paul Gambaccini noted, the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone have male soloists hitting a high worldwide. Indeed, Taylor Swift was the only female artist to appear in IFPI's Top 10 list of best-sellers globally last year, alongside six solo men (Sheeran, Drake, Lamar, Eminem, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd) and three male-led groups (Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park, The Chainsmokers).

It's an interesting trend in light of the wider conversation about diversity and gender parity that has arisen in recent months. Are labels not taking enough risks with female talent, or does male talent simply over index on streaming services? The breakthroughs of Dua Lipa and Cardi B suggest there's an audience out there.

 

ARETHA FRANKLIN,
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