The number of tracks streamed online through sites such as Spotify and Last FM has seen an increase of around 700%. Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, David Joseph revealed that over 7.5 billion songs were streamed via these sites last year, up from 1.1 billion in 2011. What's more, last year saw 250 billion songs viewed online via YouTube.
Yet, Joseph does not believe that the increased popularity of streaming is good news when it comes to breaking new artists. He noted that 2012 has so far seen only nine breaking artists (artists defined as selling more than 100,000 albums), which matches the record low of nine that was seen in 2010. To put that into perspective, 27 artists broke in 2007:
"There are two or three more acts to break but it doesn't look like reaching 19," said Joseph, adding that the industry was typically expected to break more than 20 acts a year. "Considering this is our lifeblood it is of concern to us, and something we focus on every day."
Joseph believes that the BBC and commercial radio stations need to do more to back new artists on order to bring the number of breaking artists up:
"The BBC does an amazing job introducing new artists," he added. "On commercial radio it often feels we have to create a hit first before commercial radio wants to play it. I do believe there is an audience out there who wants to hear the hits first, not 10 weeks later. I would love to see commercial radio take more risks."
He noted that commercial radio stations had done little to back new artists in 2012. Lana Del Ray, for example, while the third biggest selling artist of the year, was only the 107th most played artist on radio.