BOWIE SOLD THE MOST IN BLIGHTY 2016

David Bowie was the top-selling artist in the U.K. last year across 1.6m albums, according to the AES calculation (which comprises physical and digital album sales, as well as track-equivalent albums, in which 1k streams = one album). The stat comes from the BPI’s yearbook, which contains a number of interesting observations on the British music market.

Bowie fans bought 1.5m albums and his catalogue amassed 127m streams. His Top 5 most popular releases were #1 Blackstar (RCA), followed by Parlophone albums Best of Bowie, Nothing has Changed - The Very Best of, Legacy and Hunky Dory.

When it comes to all albums (not just artist albums), the Now brand is #1, with its 95 iteration (Sony Music CG/Virgin EMI) selling 868k copies last year. 93 follows at #2 with 94 at #4. We already wrote about the top-selling artist albums and singles tally here.

Here’s some more takeouts from the yearbook: The sales of Adele’s 25 boosted the weekly average sale of a #1 artist album to 82.4k in 2015, and that tally fell by half (to 41.6k) in 2016. Only three titles (by Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Michael Ball & Alfie Boe) managed weekly sales of over 100k (gold) in the U.K. 2016. However, the average chart-eligible sales for positions #30 to #75 all increased.

Is the lack of gold-certified albums the sign of a slow year for Blighty, or a sign of the times? The measure has been used in the past to define a successful breakthrough artist—a rule that deserves some scrutiny in the age we live in. British artist’s share of album sales fell 3.8% to 46.7% last year, while the U.S. took a 39.2% share and Canada tallied 5.5%.

When it comes to streaming, playlists take a 20-25% share of audio streams with 85% of those coming from curated/editorial lists and 15% user-created/owned. For the 75-80% other category, 50% of listening is happening within own collections/saved tracks and the other half from direct plays.

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