Classical BOOST: streaming beats pop, as sales soar by 10%

14 January 2019, 15:27

By Kyle Macdonald

Royal wedding cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason is among the artists driving a big surge in classical album listening.

New figures from the UK’s record label association have revealed it’s a boom time for the classical music industry. Over the last 12 months, 2.23 million classical albums were purchased as a CD, downloaded or streamed online.

Classical music saw a 10 per cent rise across all forms of sales – almost double the 5.7 per cent increase in the market as a whole, outstripping pop and rock genres in year-on-year growth.

When it comes to classical music, people are still buying physical albums too. CDs still account for 60 per cent of all sales, up 7 percent compared to 2017.

Classical sales were boosted by high-profile performances in 2018 from cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at St George’s Chapel in Windsor and TV appearances from Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins and Yo-Yo Ma.

In July 2018, Sheku became the first artist to receive the new BRIT Certified Breakthrough Award, having sold over 30,000 copies of his debut album in the UK.

The growth of streaming has also benefitted independent record labels. In late 2018, Signum Records hit the milestone of 200m Spotify streams.

Signum’s founder Steve Long told Classic FM that the market for classical streaming is expanding rapidly. “We have found that by embracing it, not only are our digital revenues rising but our artists can be heard in many more countries than they could ever visit or we could ever distribute CDs in.”

Long also said that streaming is contributing to rapid growth in artist fan bases and that it's a platform where many people are trying classical music for the first time.