Robbie Williams’ album helps cassette sales reach 15-year high

By Julia Hunt, PA Entertainment Correspondent

Robbie Williams’s latest album has helped cassette sales to hit a 15-year high.

The singer’s latest offering, The Christmas Present, was the fastest-selling cassette album since Now 52 in July 2002.

Releases by Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, Kylie Minogue and Madonna also did well on the format this year, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Album cassette sales in the UK.
Album cassette sales in the UK (PA Graphics)

Cassette sales still only account for just 0.1% of overall recorded music consumption, but demand has increased for seven consecutive years, and the 2019 sales tally of 80,404 purchases is the biggest annual total recorded in 15 years (99,636 were sold in 2004).

Growth also continued for vinyl, with 4.3 million LPs sold, the biggest total this century.

Album vinyl sales in the UK
Album vinyl sales in the UK (PA Graphics)

Official figures released by the BPI, based on Official Charts Company data, showed that 2019 marked a fifth consecutive year of growth in the consumption of recorded music in the UK.

The equivalent of 154 million albums were either streamed, purchased on physical formats or downloaded – up by 7.5 per on 2018 and reaching its highest level since 2006.

Streaming is also on the rise – the 2019 total of 114 billion plays on audio streaming services marks the first time the 100 billion landmark has been surpassed in a single year.

The most-streamed track of 2019 – Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved – was played over 228 million times on audio streaming services.

Album sales in the UK
Album sales in the UK (PA Graphics)

Other artists making the year end top 10 included Lil Nas X, Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Eilish, while singer-songwriter Tones and I enjoyed an 11-week run at the top of the Official Singles Chart with her global smash Dance Monkey – the longest run by a female singer in Official Charts history.

It was a huge year for Capaldi, who topped both the Official Singles year end chart (with Someone You Loved) and the Official Album year end charts, with his debut album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent.

The album sold over 640,000 albums across all formats and album equivalents, including well over 250,000 copies on CD and vinyl combined, according to Official Charts Company data.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI and Brit Awards said: “British music proved once again in 2019 that it has a bright future.

“Strong demand for streaming music and vinyl, fuelled by the investment and innovation of UK labels in discovering and promoting new talent, boosted music consumption to levels not seen for 15 years.

Lewis Capaldi
Lewis Capaldi (Aaron Chown/PA)

“But the full benefits of this growth can only be unlocked if our new Government takes action to make the UK more competitive and encourage further investment, to require digital platforms to pay fairly for music and filter out illegal content, and to give all our schoolchildren the opportunity to play an instrument and discover the joy of making music.”