By Daniel Hunter

The enormous potential of next-generation in-car audio systems, networked home audio systems, smart TVs and tablets, combined with faster Internet and 4G networks, will catapult consumer take-up of digital music services to even greater heights, confirms a new report published by recording industry trade body The BPI.

Digital Music Nation 2013 sets out the latest forecasts for adoption of networked devices and services, with innovative digital music services at the heart of the consumer experience:

- Connected cars become a reality, with more than 50m vehicles equipped with 4G or wifi networked audio systems to be sold every year by 2017.

- More than 18.7m people — nearly 7 in ten households - are expected to own tablets by 2016, with around half of tablet owners already using their devices to listen to music.

- A boom in networked home audio and speaker systems — led by companies like Sonos and Teufel — will see annual sales of well over 3m by 2016.

- Nearly 44m people are expected to be 4G mobile subscribers by the end of 2016 —around 70% of the UK population — and network operators are expected to include music services as a key part of their 4G offer.

- A fifth (17%) of Smart TV owners are already using them to access music streaming services.

These new opportunities for record companies, retailers and artists are already founded on widespread adoption and awareness of digital music services amongst consumers. A fifth of all British music buyers have now fully transitioned to digital and almost 3 in 10 people in the UK having purchased downloads or streamed music content legally in the last year.

The enthusiastic adoption of digital music services is a nationwide phenomenon. Music lovers in Edinburgh are today revealed as the nation’s biggest users of Spotify, with new research demonstrating very high levels of awareness and satisfaction with streaming services in the UK market.

Commenting on the rapid growth of digital music in the UK, Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said, “There has rightly been a lot of focus in the past few weeks on High Street music retail. That will continue - we must do all we can to serve music fans who love CDs and vinyl. But as well as great music stores, Britain is blessed with a world-beating array of digital music services, which fans rate very highly for ease of use and value for money.

“And this is just the beginning. Labels are striking innovative new deals with mobile networks, hardware manufacturers, app developers and start-ups. The music fan will be the clear winner, as digital services evolve to deliver even richer music experiences via super-fast broadband and 4G to tablets, smart TVs and the next generation of in-car audio.”

British digital music has gone from strength to strength, giving consumers one of the world’s most innovative, diverse and advanced online music markets. Innovation from British record labels and more than 70 legal services serving the British market have delivered record numbers in 2012:

- Digital now accounts for 99.6% of singles sold, boosting sales to record volumes for the fifth successive year. Digital has resurrected the UK market for singles — with 183.3m digital single tracks sold in 2012, a more than five-fold increase in the space of a decade.
- 30.5m digital albums were sold in 2012, up 14.8% year-on-year.
- 16 albums sold more than 100,000 copies as digital downloads in 2012.
- UK music fans streamed more than 3.7 billion tracks in 2012 - 140 for every household.
- More than 114m albums and 938m single tracks sold as digital downloads to date.
- The music streaming market is now worth more than £49m to British record labels, accounting for 15.2% of digital trade income.

Kantar Worldpanel found that more than one in four (27.7%) people purchased downloads or streamed content using one of the 70+ legal digital music services in the UK — double the number of Brits (14.5%) using peer-to-peer networks to fileshare tracks illegally.

Almost one in five (19.6%) consumers have fully transitioned from physical to digital music, preferring to buy all their music in download format. New data showed the average music spend of legal only music consumers (£33.43) to be substantially more than the spend of filesharers (£26.64).

As consumers flock to explore ad-supported and subscription models for digital music, Kantar Worldpanel research revealed high consumer awareness of streaming services:

- Four out of five (80.6%) of consumers have heard of at least one of the leading audio streaming services.
- Awareness of specific individual streaming services was also high. Well over two-thirds of consumers (68.8%) were aware of Spotify, closely followed by 63.8% awareness for Napster, 34.4% for, 13.0% for Deezer, 12.8% for we7 and 11.7% for Rdio.

EMI’s Music Consumer Insight Team also found extremely high customer satisfaction with the current range of music subscription services — 93% of consumers stated their satisfaction. A quarter of users gave their service full marks (10/10) on value for money, with nearly three quarters (73%) awarding them seven out of 10 or better, according to a survey carried out by YouGov.

New research from Spotify shows the reach and appeal of streaming is firmly embedded across the UK, with the per-capita usage of the service highest in these cities:

1. Edinburgh
2. Cardiff
3. Southampton
4. London
5. Bristol
6. Leicester
7. Sheffield
8. Coventry
9. Nottingham
10. Brighton

Music is dominating the social media landscape, with artists driving enormous levels of engagement and interaction online with fans in the UK and around the world:

- Four of the top five most-followed Twitter accounts are musicians, with Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Rihanna attracting bigger followings than even US President Barack Obama.

- On YouTube, which has a monthly UK audience of 22m, the five most viewed clips of all time are music videos by Psy, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Eminem and LMFAO.

- On Facebook, three of the top 10 most-liked pages belong to Rihanna, Eminem and Shakira.

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