Music streaming grew 81% in the UK last year -- and it's getting even more popular

One DirectionJason Kempin/Getty ImagesBritish band One Direction recently hit 1 billion Spotify streams.

Music streaming is on the rise in the UK, as music downloads are declining, Music Business Worldwide reports.

Data released by the British Phonographic Industry shows a large rise in the popularity of music streaming in the UK. In the first three months of 2015, there were 5.32 billion streams on audio services. That sounds like a lot (and it is).

In the same quarter in 2014, the UK only saw 2.93 billion streams. In just one year the number of streams has increased 81.4%.

Music Business Worldwide looked at the numbers released by the BPI, and forecasts that even if it doesn’t grow any more this year, streaming in 2015 would still be 48.2% bigger than 2014.

But while music streaming is exploding in popularity, digital album sales decreased by 8.6% from 7.91 million to 7.23 million.

Europe is currently seeing a huge rise in popularity for music streaming. Countries like Norway and Sweden rely on music streaming, and physical album sales are in sharp decline.

We’re in the middle of a streaming war between three major stream services.

Rapper Jay Z recently acquired Swedish streaming company Aspiro for $US56 million, and he has brought its struggling niche service — named Tidal — into the mainstream by persuading stars such as Kanye West and Madonna to contribute exclusive videos and music.

Tidal press conference in New YorkGetty/Jamie McCarthyThe press conference for the Tidal relaunch.

Another European company vying for dominance in the world of music streaming is Spotify. One of the reasons why it’s so big is that it has a free tier — meaning users can sign up and listen to music for free. That sounds good for consumers, but it hasn’t always been an attractive prospect for artists. Musicians like Taylor Swift have hit out at Spotify, and she even pulled her music from the service.

And Apple is also preparing to enter the streaming war, too. It’s relaunching iTunes with an emphasis on music streaming rather than downloads (which is smart, because album downloads are falling). It has signed up talent including former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe to work with musicians, hoping to use star power to attract users.

NOW WATCH: We Tried The Streaming Service That The Networks Are Trying To Shut Down — It’s Amazing

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at