Music & Musicians

Ed Sheeran, 1D lead Britain’s global pop takeover


If pop princess Taylor Swift's chart domination is anything to go by, you'd be forgiven for thinking that U.S. artists rule the roost when it comes to the world's top pop stars.

However, Grammy award-winner Sam Smith, along with highly-anticipated albums from One Direction and Ed Sheeran, mean the U.K. actually dominates the top 10 artist rankings for 2014, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) announced Thursday.

One Direction, at Brit Awards 2014
Anthony Harvey | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Britain has five artists in BPI's list of the world's top 10 pop stars which is based on album sales, track sales and streams in 2014. The U.S., by comparison, has only four: Michael Jackson, Katy Perry and Beyoncé, along with Taylor Swift.

"The U.K. is a creative powerhouse that punches well above its weight on the world stage," Gennaro Castaldo, director of communications at BPI, told CNBC.

But despite Britain's success in the rankings, when it comes to album sales, Taylor Swift is the queen of pop, ranking top of the list. In 2014, Swift sold around 6 million albums according to Nielsen, helped significantly by her new release of '1989', which sold 1.3 million copies in its first week alone.

One Direction came second with 3.2 million album sales, helped by its massive fanbase and its popularity on streaming services. Following up the foursome were Ed Sheeran and Coldplay.

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Digital music sales on the rise

British music accounted for 13.7 percent of all music sales across the world last year – a rise from 13 percent in 2013.

In some countries, however, the U.K.'s musical impact was bigger than in others. British artists accounted for over 22 percent of sales in Australia, but this figure fell to just 12.2 percent in the U.S. – although this was higher than the year before.

The BPI's "Music Market 2015" report also highlighted that in the U.K., music streaming doubled in 2014 and sales of vinyl hit a 20-year high in the country.

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