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What effect is the coronavirus crisis having on UK music consumption?

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  • What effect is the coronavirus crisis having on UK music consumption?

    From Music Week
    You can expect things to change significantly as the weeks of social distancing go by, but it’s already clear that physical sales are going to take a big hit. Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all non-essential shops would have to close, adding to already-announced shutdowns by the likes of HMV. Supermarkets will remain open but, even there, space for entertainment is being squeezed by unprecedented demand for groceries.

    Week 12 sales figures from the Official Charts Company show that, even without most of those developments, physical sales of artist albums dropped 12.2% week-on-week, to 261,272. Physical compilation sales were down 8.1% to just 60,954, while, overall, sales of all albums (including digital downloads) were down 10.9% to 394,050.

    That’s perhaps a smaller drop that some might have anticipated. And, indeed, the biggest-selling physical album of the week, The Shires’ Good Years (BMG) moved 9,793 copies of its total 12,011 sales on physical formats, with just 3.87% of ‘sales’ from streaming.

    Labels will be watching closely to see if that changes in the coming weeks as older consumers may finally make the shift to streaming services. But, in the first instance, it does not seem that the move to remote working for much of the population has led to a surge in music streaming just yet.

    In the singles market, audio streams edged up 0.5% week-on-week, while video streams rose 0.2%, for a total increase of 0.3%. But, in the albums sector, consumption of Streaming Equivalent Albums actually fell 6.2% week-on-week, to 1,265,809 units.

    It’s too early to say if that means the crisis will lead to reduced music consumption across the board and, even in the coming weeks, other likely factors such as a reduced release schedule will also have an impact.