British artists’ share of the North American albums market has reached a record high this century, with market shares climbing to 11.7% and 16.2% in the US and Canada respectively last year, led by the success of Adele, Coldplay and Mumford & Sons.
A BPI analysis of Nielsen SoundScan sales data released today shows that a strong release schedule saw 30 albums by UK acts sell more than 100,000 copies, a 25% increase on 2010’s figure.
Adele led the wave of British artists making their names across the Atlantic, securing the biggest-selling album spot in both the US and Canada. In the US, the six-time Grammy award-winner’s 21 sold an extraordinary 5.8 million copies – outselling 2010’s best-seller, Eminem’s Recovery, by 2.4 million. The Someone Like You singer additionally sold a phenomenal 14 million single tracks.
Following Adele’s lead, a coalition of female artists stormed the charts with Florence + The Machine, Susan Boyle, Amy Winehouse, Sade, and former BRIT School students Jessie J and Marsha Ambrosius named amongst the best-selling British artists in the US.
The last 12 months also saw a host of new entrants welcomed by North American music fans. Amongst those who broke through Stateside were metal act, Asking Alexandria, who sold more than 100,000 albums, whilst TV star Hugh Laurie enjoyed success with his debut album. Two Door Cinema Club and The Joy Formidable also started to make an impression. Topping off a successful year, Tinie Tempah’s US debut Written in the Stars reached the top 100 in the airplay charts and marked a first for a debut by a British rapper by selling more than 1 million copies. British music continued to grace the airwaves as UK artists accounted for 8.4% of radio plays.
There were impressive sales achievements from Coldplay who had the third biggest selling British album, Mylo Xyloto, and Taio Cruz who has now sold more than 10 million tracks over the past two years. Jessie J and Florence + The Machine also enjoyed substantial success, each clocking up sales of more than 2 million for the first time in the singles market.
Iconic UK artists continued to sell well with titles from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Radiohead, Elton John and Led Zeppelin again proving to be a bedrock for sales of British music overseas.
Commenting on the Stateside success of British acts, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor, said,
“British music has resonated strongly in North America since the 1960s, but right now British artists are on the crest of a new wave. Led by Adele, Mumford & Sons and Coldplay, British artists are again storming the US and Canadian charts. In 2011 they took taken their highest share this century of the North American albums market.
“The strong Stateside performance of British boybands, The Wanted and One Direction, signals more success to come. These results prove that the risks UK labels take investing in British talent – spending more than 20% of the revenues annually on A&R – together with their digital and marketing expertise, help British artists break internationally and generate important exports that boost the UK economy.”
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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.