A milestone for digital music.

Streaming revenue is to overtake physical music sales in the UK, according to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Streaming accounted for 30% of overall label revenues in 2016, compared to 32% for physical sales. According to the BPI, the rate of growth means that streaming is expected to overtake physical in 2017.

According to the BPI’s report, 11% of the UK’s adult population were subscribed to a service such as Apple Music or Spotify at the end of 2016.

The figures also revealed that overall revenue (streaming, physical and download sales, performance rights and licensed music) rose by 5.1%. The £926 million total is the largest in five years.

However, the BPI was cautious about the challenges the industry still faces, including piracy and the difference in revenue generated for artists and labels from services such as YouTube.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor also warned of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, arguing that UK artists needed to retain access to EU markets after the UK’s withdrawal.

“Britain’s world-leading music sector has the potential for sustained growth in the years ahead, but this exciting future can only be realised if government makes creative businesses a priority post-Brexit,” he said.

“It means making sure that UK artists can tour freely in EU markets and that UK businesses can access the best talent.”

The boom in streaming and rise in overall revenue for the UK music industry mirrors that of the US, where streaming accounted for a massive 51% of all revenue in 2016.

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