Classical listens surge as genre outperforms rest of music industry
The number of plays of classical music increased by more than 10% in 2018, with the genre growing faster than the UK music industry at large.
Across all genres, there was a rise of only 5.7% in music consumption over the last 12 months, according to data collected by the Official Charts Company for BPI, the UK’s record labels association.
In the same period, more than 2.2 million classical albums were purchased, downloaded or streamed – painting a positive picture for the future of the genre.
Nearly 60% of classical music was bought in CD format, despite the wider market’s trend towards streaming.
Streams of classical music increased by 42% in 2018, compared to a 33% rise for the UK music market as a whole.
Streaming now accounts for just over a quarter of classical consumption, according to BPI.
Downloads were the only format where demand for classical music fell, with digital albums declining by 13.4%.
However, compared to the wider market the figure is favourable, with downloads across the market dropping by 26%.
The data also show that seven of the top-30 best-selling classical album in 2018 were film soundtracks by composers such as John Williams and Hans Zimmer.
Music by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi accounted for one in 12 UK classical streams.
Based on the top 15,000 tracks, Einaudi was the leading classical artist on streaming services, accounting for 8.6% of all plays.
Also highly streamed in 2018 were Katherine Jenkins, Andrea Bocelli and Yo-Yo Ma.
Ginny Cooper, co-chair of BPI’s Classical Committee and classical consultant with Proper Distribution, said: “These figures reflect a very good year for classical music, underscoring a healthy rise in demand for the genre across key formats, which impressively outperformed the growth for the music market as a whole.”
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI and the Brit Awards and co-chair of BPI’s Classical Committee, said: “This is a dynamic moment in the history of classical music, with brilliant new artists such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Alexis Ffrench and Jess Gillam bursting through to accompany revered icons such as Andrea Bocelli, Yo-Yo Ma and Bryn Terfel.
“The popularity of soundtracks and new works by composers such as Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter are broadening the appeal of classical among younger listeners on streaming services.
“We welcome the Government’s proposals to review music education. Funding and promoting much stronger music education in all schools would deliver benefits across society going well beyond classical music.”