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04 January 2022

Ed Sheeran, Dave & Dua Lipa Among 2021’S Biggest-Selling Album Artists In The UK

Ed Sheeran Biggest Album Artists UK 2021
Photo: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo
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Ed Sheeran, Dave and Dua Lipa were among the ten biggest-selling album artists in the UK in 2021, according to a report by the Official Charts Company.

Adele’s double-platinum 30 (Columbia) was officially the biggest-selling album of 2021 with sales of 600,056 (including 98,093 from streams). UK artists – Adele, Ed Sheeran (two entries), Dua Lipa, Dave, Elton John, Queen and Fleetwood Mac – accounted for eight of the year’s top 10 album artists.

Recorded music consumption in the UK increased by 2.5% year-on-year in 2021, with 159.3 million albums or their equivalent either streamed or purchased across all formats.

The Album Equivalent Streams (AES) figure covering sales and streams reported by the BPI, based on Official Charts Company data, was up on the 155.4m albums equivalent figure in 2020 (a 53-week year compared to 52 weeks in 2021, which will have had a slight impact on this year’s result). It represents a seventh consecutive year of growth.

During 2021, consumption was powered by streaming, comprising more than 147 billion individual audio streams, which represents an equivalent of 132.4 million streamed albums (up 5.7% year-on-year). In June 2021 the OCC registered the first week when audio streams topped the three billion mark – a feat since repeated three times in December.

Streaming now accounts for 83.1% of the recorded music market in unit terms. The label revenue figures will follow later this year.

The new report also says there are signs of maturity in the UK streaming market with double-digit year-on-year increases in audio streaming volumes no longer set to be a regular feature. For comparison, the 2020 AES figure (comprising all consumption including physical) was up 8.2%, while streaming equivalent albums (SEA) were up 20.2% year-on-year in 2020. In 2019, the SEA streaming growth was 26%.

While physical sales were dominant in the year’s top three sellers by Adele, Ed Sheeran and ABBA (whose comeback LP Voyage was the biggest-selling vinyl release), streaming was the main contribution towards the OCC sales totals for the majority of the year’s overall Top 20, including Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour at No.4 (395,323 sales – 82.9% from streams). Nevertheless, for 40 chart weeks in 2021, physical units accounted for over half of chart-eligible sales of the No.1 artist album.

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