New British Invasion As Brits Bag Record Share of American Music Market in 2012

  • British artists account for one in seven (13.6%) artist albums sold in the US recorded music market in 2012 – the highest share on record

  • One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Muse, Mumford & Sons and The Wanted break records in the US album and singles charts

  • Adele, One Direction and Mumford & Sons claim four of the five biggest-selling artist albums Stateside

The phenomenal success of home-grown acts such as One Direction, Adele, and Mumford & Sons helped British artists to secure their biggest ever share  - 13.6% - of the US recorded music market in 2012.  UK acts claimed four of the five best-selling artist albums in the US and accounted for one in seven of all artist albums sold Stateside in the last twelve months, new figures released by the BPI today revealed.   

Oscar-nominated Adele continued her reign at the top of the best-selling artist albums chart, selling more than 4.4 million copies of her multi-award winning 21 last year with cumulative sales of the smash hit now tallying more than 10 million copies in the US alone.  The Grammy award-winning singer dominated the singles market in early 2012 with three tracks in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 in February and completed another stellar year with the official theme song for the iconic James Bond movie, Skyfall, charting Top 10 in October.

One Direction-mania took the US by storm, as the five-piece smashed records and became the first British group to have their first two albums debut at Number 1 in the US Billboard 200.  Up All Night and Take Me Home charted at 3 and 5 respectively in the rundown of the five biggest-selling albums of the year.

Following their 2010 success with Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons strengthened their foothold in the US market as Babel shot straight up the Billboard Charts to Number 1 in October.  The release scored the biggest debut for a Rock album since AC/DC’s Black Ice in 2008 and became the fourth biggest-selling album in the US overall last year. 

Hot on the heels of Mumford & Sons’ success, BRIT Awards nominees, Muse, shot to Number 2 in the Billboard 200 with their sixth studio album, The 2nd Law – marking the first time two rock acts have stood side-by-side at the top of the Billboard Charts since Def Leppard and The Cure in May 1992.

Commenting on the continued success of British artists in the US, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said,
“It’s officially a new British Invasion. British labels are discovering unique talent and using social media to help build fanbases right around the world, in particular in the US, where fans have such an affinity for British music.
“Increasing our share of the US market for three years in a row is an encouraging sign for the future. It’s an exciting time to be part of the British music industry  - as a country we can be very proud of our artists and of the British music companies who invest in them.”

British Breakthrough Acts in the US

The US played host to a wave of new acts who broke through in the competitive market in 2012. 

The Wanted made US Billboard chart history climbing to No.5 with their single Glad You Came in March 2012 – at the time the highest position for any UK boyband in America.  The group’s self-titled album enjoyed success in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.

Grammy-nominated Ed Sheeran added to the record-breaking success of British artists across the Atlantic when his debut album + charted at number five – crowning the singer-songwriter the highest charting solo UK male debut since Thom Yorke’s The Eraser in 2006. 

Coexist by The XX also featured highly in the albums market entering the Billboard 200 at Number 5 in September.

Cher Lloyd, Ellie Goulding, and Jessie J kept British “girl power” alive in the US with a string of album and singles successes.  The former X Factor contestant scored a Top 10 hit with her album Sticks & Stones whilst her single Want U Back sold more than 1 million copies in 2012.  Ellie Goulding achieved a Number 2 single with Lights in August, paving the way for a successful entry at Number 9 in the Billboard 200 with her album Halcyon.  Former BRIT School student, Jessie J, made Number 6 on the Hot 100 Chart with Domino.

Other acts putting British music firmly on the US map included Rod Stewart, Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Snow Patrol, Seal, Joss Stone, Van Morrison, Calvin Harris and newcomer Alex Clare.

Another wave of British talent is making headway this year, with newcomer Conor Maynard’s album Contrast entering the Billboard Charts at Number 34 in January and Emeli Sandé already impressing Stateside with her multi-platinum album, Our Version of Events.


For more information contact:
• Lynne McDowell at or on 020 7803 1395 / 07763 619709
• Adam Liversage at or on 020 7803 1326 / 07801 179032

About BPI

The BPI is the representative voice of the UK recorded music business. The BPI is a trade organisation funded by its members - which include hundreds of independent music companies and the UK’s four major record labels. The BPI’s members account for approximately 90% of all recorded music sold in the UK, and globally the UK's recorded music market is the fourth biggest.

The BPI also organises the annual BRIT Awards show as well as the Classical BRIT Awards show. The organising company BRIT Awards Limited, is a fully owned subsidiary of the BPI. Substantial proceeds from both shows go to the BRIT Trust, the charitable arm of the BPI that has donated almost £15m to charitable causes nationwide, since its foundation in 1989.

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