The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a U.K.-based music industry trade organization, reported a 5.7% jump in the number of streamed songs in 2021. This represents a large decline in growth from previous years.
In 2021, 147.2 billion songs were streamed in the British market. In 2020, 139.9 billion were streamed, marking a 7.9 billion jump in 2021. While that number sounds like a lot, it actually represents a significantly lower amount of growth from previous years.
For example, 2020 saw a growth of 25.1 billion more streams from 2019. In 2019, growth was at 23.3 billion. In fact, 2021’s growth of 7.9 billion marks the lowest since 2015. From 2017 to 2020, growth remained steadily above 20 billion.
One thing to keep in mind is that these numbers represent the volume of songs streamed, not revenue. Revenue figures from streaming have not been released yet. They will be later this week by the Entertainment Retailers’ Association (ERA). The revenue figures may not directly correlate to volume figures, as some streams come from free accounts vs others from paid accounts.
Another factor to consider when looking at these numbers is the way the BPI obtains its data. Each week, the U.K. charts containing streaming figures are released. The BPI bases its figures on these.
Because of how 2021 was structured, there were 52 “chart weeks.” In 2020, however, there were 53 chart weeks, meaning 2020 was slightly favored. Even when factoring that in (i.e., if 2021 had 53 chart weeks), however, the growth figure still would have been 9.9 billion.