[British music market] Rising popularity of cassette tapes and CDs, or a return to physical media?


With the exception of Japan, the global music market is dominated by digital streaming and download sales. Music subscriptions have become mainstream, and have become mainstream in many countries, but the UK has seen an increase in sales of cassette tapes and CDs in recent years. Following the popularity of analog records in recent years, cassette tapes are also becoming popular.

UK music market

The British Recording Industry Association (BPI) reports that recorded music consumption in the UK increased by 8.2% over the year. In 2020, the UK recorded 139 billion audio streams, an increase of over 20% compared to 2019. About 200 artists have recorded over 100 million views. As for album sales, they have recorded sales equivalent to 155 million copies and have maintained their excellent form. The UK music market is currently the third largest in the world, but it is said that it will surely overtake Japan in the future. By the way, streaming accounts for four-fifths of all music consumption in the UK, which proves that digitization is progressing. However, sales of physical media are also growing. It is said that the number of sales of analog records and cassette tapes, which are said to be relics of the past, is increasing. What is happening in England?


analog record

Vinyl record sales in the UK have increased for the 14th consecutive year. CD sales accounted for 10.3% of total sales. According to BPI, more than 14 million CDs will be purchased in 2021, and 5.3 million analog record albums will be the highest level in 30 years, accounting for more than a quarter of physical format purchases. I’m here. The best-selling vinyl record album of 2021 in the UK is ABBA’s comeback Voyage.

cassette tape

In the UK, cassette tape sales in 2021 exceeded 185,000, the highest sales volume since 2003. According to a report by the BPI (British Recording Industry), cassette tape sales in the UK will increase by 19% in 2021. In the 2000s, many people said that cassette tapes were meaningless physical media that no one wanted. But in the last few years, sales of cassette tapes have suddenly started to rise. According to BPI, cassette tapes account for only 0.2% of total album sales, so it is said that there is a recurrence phenomenon among British people, although the influence on sales is low.

What is a cassette tape?

Many young people today may not know the existence of cassette tapes. Cassette tape is an audio recording medium developed by Philips, a Dutch electronics manufacturer, and was developed in 1962. A recording medium that supported the music market in the latter half of the 20th century, it is probably very familiar to middle-aged and elderly people. A compact cassette consists of a half, a hub, a tape, a leader tape, and a slip sheet. The tape is wrapped around a reel called a hub inside a plastic case called a half or shell. In recording, an electrical signal is converted into magnetism by a recording head, radiated from the head gap, and magnetically recorded by contacting a magnetic tape coated with a magnetic material. Cassette tapes once played a leading role in music recording media, but declined with the rise of CDs and MDs.

Is the Analog Boom Coming Again in America?

The media we listen to music has changed from cassettes to CDs to digital. In recent years, with the spread of Spotify, etc., it is common to listen to music through streaming. But the same thing could happen in America as well. According to a report by the Recording Industry Association of America, while CD sales are plummeting, “records” account for more than a third of physical music releases. It suggests a return to analog content. Maybe music fans have strong feelings towards physical media?


Copied title and URL