David Cameron has hailed One Direction as a great British success story, as new figures showed that UK music is enjoying record global success.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, appeared to criticise the boyband for raking in “immoral” earnings.
But the Prime Minister welcomed the X Factor-created group’s international breakthrough after new BPI figures which showed that UK music artists’ share of global album sales rose to a record 13.3 per cent in 2012.
One Direction became the first UK group to have their debut album enter the US chart at No1. Both of the quintet’s albums made the global year-end top five.
Harry Styles and his bandmates each earned £5 million last year. Cable had said such incomes were “downright insensitive and grossly immoral” although he later denied that he intended to slight One Direction.
However Mr Cameron said Styles and Co had nothing to be ashamed about. “We should be extremely proud of how our world-leading music industry continues to go from strength to strength, with a record share of the global market and with British acts having the world’s top selling album for five of the last six years,” the Prime Minister said.
He added: “British music is enjoyed across the world and we will keep backing our creative industries that support jobs, create opportunities and contribute to the economy.”
Big-selling albums by Adele, Emeli Sandé and Ed Sheeran also helped boost UK artists’ global success. Two debut albums, Sandé’s Our Version Of Events and Sheeran’s +, featured in the global top 20. Strong worldwide sales were also achieved by albums from established British acts including Coldplay, Rod Stewart, Led Zeppelin and Muse.
The Prime Minister was due to attend a lavish event in Kensington, west London on Wednesday night celebrating the British music industry, featuring live performances from Rizzle Kicks and Chase & Status.
The music industry is urging the Government to safeguard its future success by implementing measures which will protect copyright and require internet service providers to take a greater responsibility for removing pirated files from the web.
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said: “As music goes digital, Britain has the potential to be even more successful, connecting instantly with fans who love our music wherever they may live. The time is right for Government to back innovative businesses like music that can lead the economy back to growth.”
Tony Wadsworth, BPI chairman, added: “We’ve built on a strong musical heritage to cement our position as a creative powerhouse with enormous potential for growth in the digital age. It remains important that Government supports our creative industries to give us every opportunity to compete on the world stage.”
For a second consecutive year, Adele’s 21 was the top-selling album in the world with over 26m sales to date. 21 was the biggest seller of 2012 in many of the world’s biggest music markets, including the US, Canada, France and The Netherlands.
In the US, British music accounted for one in seven (13.7%) of artist albums sold in 2012, their biggest share on record. Adele, One Direction’s two titles and Mumford & Sons claimed four of the five biggest-selling artist albums.
Little Mix, the girl-group who won the 2011 X Factor series, look set to repeat One Direction’s US success. Their debut album, DNA, this week entered the Billboard albums chart at number 5. It is the highest US chart entry for a British female band since The Spice Girls in 1997.