If there was any doubt whatsoever that Ed Sheeran was the biggest artist of 2017, the annual BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) report should remove it.
The trade body has revealed that UK music fans streamed more music than ever last year – a total of 68.1 billion songs – and a lot of it was by the “Shape of You” hitmaker.
Sheeran had four of the top 10 biggest-selling singles of the year, according to the report, and managed to sneak not one but two albums into the top 10 (combined sales and streams).
÷ [Divide] came out on top, but his second record, x, also managed to score the number 6 spot, above records released last year including Liam Gallagher’s As You Were and Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer.
Sheeran’s four tracks in the Top Singles of 2017 were: “Shape of You”, “Castle on the Hill”, “Galway Girl” and “Perfect”. Other artists with top singles included Rag ’N’ Bone Man with “Human”, Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee with “Despacito” and Jax Jones ft Raye with the catchy “You Don’t Know Me”.
Overall the UK music industry saw the fastest growth in consumption this millennium across all formats. UK acts accounted for eight out of 10 of the best-selling albums, with emerging, homegrown solo acts such as Stormzy, Dua Lipa, J Hus, Loyle Carner and Sampha proving major forces for the British market.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI and the Brit Awards, said: “Demand for music in the UK is growing fast, driven by brilliant British artists such as Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Rag ’N’ Bone Man, Little Mix, Stormzy and Dua Lipa and the innovative music industry that supports them.
“Whilst the rapid growth of streaming and resilient demand for physical formats gives us confidence for the future, it is important to remember that the music industry still has a long way to go to recover fully. Structural challenges must be overcome if long-term growth is to be sustained.”
Mr Taylor noted it was vital for the Government to ensure musicians are able to tour freely after Britain leaves the EU.
“We should make the UK the best place to invest in new content by forging an online environment that is safe for consumers and where illegal sites cannot flourish,” he concluded. “If we do this, the future for British music, which is already one of our leading exports, will be very bright.”