Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith top British dominated best-selling albums chart of 2014

Figures also show that four of the top five most streamed artists of the year were British

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The Independent Culture

The 10 best-selling albums of 2014 were all the work of British artists – the first time home-grown talent has so thoroughly dominated the official charts.

Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith led a record-breaking sales charge of critically acclaimed British talent, according to new sales figures released today.

Breakthrough albums from George Ezra and Clean Bandit helped to contribute to annual sales totalling more than £1bn for the UK music industry.

Two albums, Ed Sheeran’s X and Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour, both sold more than one million copies each, among the highest figures since Adele released her chart-topping album 21 in 2011. The new figures also showed that four of the top five most streamed artists in 2014 were British. “The remarkable success of British artists in 2014 is exciting news for the future,” said Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, the record-label body, which released the new figures. “Our record labels are backing home-grown talent like Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra, who in turn are catching fire around the world.”

British talent benefited from a boom in demand for streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Google, according to new figures which are based on the Official Charts Company data.


Streamed music doubled in volume to 14.8 billion audio streams, with digital content, including downloaded  tracks, now accounting  for 51 per cent of Britain’s music consumption.

Mr Taylor said: “With major new premium services from Apple and YouTube set to boost subscription streaming even further in 2015, we believe the UK’s world-leading music industry is strongly positioned for future expansion.”

The re-emergence of vinyl continued with 1.3 million LP vinyl sales making 2014 the biggest year for the retro format since 1995, at the height of the Britpop boom.

Vinyl still accounts for less than 2 per cent of the recorded-music market, but its increasing popularity helped to offset partially the decline in physical CDs, which fell again, to 55.7 million, down by 7.9 per cent on 2013.

However, CDs are not the only medium affected by the rise of streaming services: download stores, which  heralded the demise in the CD’s fortunes a decade ago, are also suffering from the new digital competition.

Downloads still represent a third of all album sales in the UK but dropped by two million sales on 2013 and face growing competition from streaming services, which grew rapidly in popularity.

They now account for 12.6 per cent of music consumed, a rise from 6.2 per cent in 2013.

Major new streaming services from Apple and Google this year are expected to boost demand further.

Top of the pops: Britain’s top 10

1 Ed Sheeran X

2 Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour

3 George Ezra Wanted on Voyage

4 Paolo Nutini Caustic Love

5 Coldplay Ghost Stories

6 Paloma Faith A Perfect Contradiction

7 One Direction Four

8 Olly Murs Never Been Better

9 Pink Floyd The Endless River

10 Take That III