BPI announce first artist recipients of new and prestigious BRIT Billion award
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ABBA / AJ Tracey / Anne-Marie / Coldplay / Ellie Goulding / George Ezra / Headie One / Lewis Capaldi / Mariah Carey / RAYE / Rita Ora / Sam Smith / Whitney Houston
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The BPI – the voice of independent and major record labels across the UK – today reveals the first wave of artists that have been recognised with the prestigious new BRIT Billion award, which celebrates and acknowledges outstanding achievement in recorded music by surpassing the landmark of one billion career UK streams - as calculated by the Official Charts Company.
From the multi-decade-spanning success of global icons ABBA, Coldplay, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, the impact of contemporary and pioneering rap and hip-hop talent AJ Tracey and Headie One, to the chart-dominating reign of pop artists and singer-songwriters such as Anne-Marie, Ellie Goulding, George Ezra, Lewis Capaldi, RAYE, Rita Ora and Sam Smith, the BRIT Billion award celebrates these artists’ undeniable impact on UK music and marks their achievement in hitting this significant milestone.
The BRIT Billion award, which, like the existing BRIT Certified scheme and its iconic Platinum, Silver and Gold tiers, is verified using Official Charts data - and represents the first significant upgrade to the certifications programme since April 2018, when it was rebranded from the BPI Awards to the BRIT Certified Awards. BRIT Billion also marks 50 years of the BPI and the 50th anniversary of the certifications programme, which was created by the BPI in 1973.
This will be the first time in its five-decade history that the certifications scheme officially recognises an artist’s combined success across multiple projects. The One Billion career total will include tracks an artist has appeared on either as the principal performer or as a featured artist, as credited by the Official Charts.
The introduction of BRIT Billion reflects the extent to which streaming has transformed the music landscape for artists and fans alike over the past decade – more than 85% of the UK's recorded music consumption now takes place through streaming, and in 2022 there were a record 160 billion audio streams in the UK in total. Many artists now measure success in the tens and hundreds of millions of streams each year in the UK alone, but a growing number are also surpassing the billion threshold, creating the need for a prestigious new award to mark and celebrate their outstanding achievement. Many more artists who have surpassed the threshold will be announced in due course.
With nearly 400 million albums sold worldwide, 17 No. 1 hits and over 50 million weekly global streams, ABBA are one of the world's most successful music acts of all time. Ever since their breakthrough with 'Waterloo' back in 1974, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad have enjoyed worldwide hits such as 'Dancing Queen', 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' and 'Mamma Mia', which are also the group’s most streamed songs in the UK.
Rapper, singer-songwriter and producer AJ Tracey first hit the UK’s Official Charts in 2017 and since then has enjoyed both critical and commercial acclaim for his music, becoming one of the most streamed rappers in the UK, with both of his albums placing inside the Top 3 on the UK’s Official Albums Chart on release. His hit ‘Ladbroke Grove’ has amassed over 250 million streams to date.
AJ said: "It’s a real honour to have been given one of the first ever BRIT Billion awards. I do this all for you guys, so thank you for listening. New album on the way. Stay locked!"
BRIT-nominated singer Anne-Marie has become one of the UK’s most popular artists through her consistent chart success, and recent move into TV, as one of the coaches for BBC One’s The Voice UK. Her debut and follow up albums both hit the Top 3 of the Official Albums Chart on release (the former including hit single '2002' which has accumulated a quarter of a billion streams to date), and has released a score of huge hit collaborations with the likes of Little Mix, Niall Horan, Rudimental, David Guetta, Clean Bandit and more recently Aitch on their UK Top 10 single 'Psycho'.
One of the best-selling acts of all time, Coldplay have released nine studio albums to date (all of which have gone to Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart) - producing singles and streaming hits such as 'Yellow', 'Viva La Vida', 'Fix You', 'Hymn for the Weekend' and 'My Universe', with numerous worldwide sell-out tours and music accolades across their 20+ year career. The band - consisting of Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, Will Champion and Chris Martin, have continued to evolve and discover new sonic worlds, and are universally recognised as one of planet's most influential and pioneering acts.
BRIT-winning Ellie Goulding has amassed huge streaming numbers over the years, with her 4x Platinum hit 'Love Me Like You Do' – her most streamed track in the UK to date. Five studio albums under her belt and a number of hit singles such as 'Starry Eyes', 'Under the Sheets', 'Anything Could Happen' and 'On My Mind' have cemented her as one of the UK’s most exciting pop artists.
Chart-topping singer songwriter George Ezra has been a household name since his 2013 smash hit 'Budapest', taken from his Official Albums Chart No. 1 'Wanted on Voyage'. His BRIT-Certified and 6x Platinum single 'Shotgun', released in 2018, has been streamed just shy of 500 million times in the UK - making it one of the most streamed songs ever in the UK, with all three of his studio albums hitting the No. 1 spot in the UK’s Official Albums Chart. His third consecutive number 1 album 'Gold Rush Kid', released in 2022, is now Gold and single ‘Green Green Grass’ is Platinum.
Rap pioneer Headie One rose to prominence as a solo artist in 2018 with the release of 'Know Better', his first signing to Sony's Relentless label. Since then he has become a regular fixture in the UK's Official Charts, through releases including '18Hunna' featuring Dave and 'Ain't It Different' with Stormzy and AJ Tracey (reaching over 130 million streams in the UK to date), with his Gold-certified debut album hitting the Official No. 1 spot on release in 2020.
International superstar Lewis Capaldi has endeared himself to countless fans since the release of his debut album 'Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent' - the biggest selling UK album of both 2019 and 2020, which also included the BRIT Certified 8x Platinum ‘Someone You Loved’, 2019’s biggest single of the year and the most-streamed song in the UK of all time with over 600 million streams (as verified by the Official Charts Company). The Scot’s forthcoming album 'Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent' seems to be following a similar success pattern, having achieved three No. 1 singles with 'Wish You The Best', 'Forget Me' and 'Pointless' ahead of its release.
Lewis said: "Am so buzzing to be one of the first artists ever to be given a "BRIT Billion" award! Never in a million years did I think any of this stuff would happen but now it is I will gladly accept each and every award, you have my address x."
Global pop and R&B royalty Mariah Carey rose to fame in the early 90s and since then has become one of music’s most treasured icons with hit singles such as 'Hero', 'Fantasy', 'Without You' and 'One Sweet Day’', and ten top 10s in the Official Albums Chart and breaking a number of records along the way. The 1994 single 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' has ensured Mariah’s synonymy with the festive period even now, and is one of the UK’s most streamed songs of all time with over 370 million streams.
Mariah said: "I'm really honoured to be one of the recipients of the BRIT Billion Award. I'm so grateful to my fans for their endless and enduring support. I love you UK lambily and cannot wait to come back to your side of the pond and create more magical moments together."
RAYE is one of the UK’s most exciting singer-songwriters of recent times. As an independent artist she released her debut album ‘My 21st Century Blues’ earlier this year, reaching No. 2 in the UK’s Official Albums Chart and No. 1 in the Independent Album charts. Following a multitude of Top 10 singles, RAYE achieved her first No.1 on the UK’s Official Singles Chart this January with ‘Escapism.' 'Escapism.' achieved Platinum status shortly after the album's release, joining RAYE's impressive collection of streaming and platinum-certified hits, which also includes "Decline" ft Mr Eazi, "By Your Side" with Jonas Blue, "You Don't Know Me" with Jax Jones, "Ferrari Horses" with D-Block Europe, "Bed" with Joel Corry and "Secrets" with Regard.
RAYE said: "Thank you so much to the BPI for this award. One billion streams is a very overwhelming number to truly wrap my head around, I’m very grateful to everyone and anyone who is included in that number, thank you."
First featuring on the No. 1 single 'Hot Right Now' in 2012, Rita Ora has been front and centre of the UK pop music scene for two decades, with two studio albums (her debut going straight in as Official No.1), and a string of Official No. 1 singles including 'R.I.P.', 'How We Do (Party)', 'Your Song', 'Anywhere', and 'Let You Love Me' - which has scored over 150 million UK streams to date. She is also the record holder for the most Top Ten singles (13) by a British female artist.
Multi-Platinum artist/songwriter Sam Smith has amassed over 40 million album sales, 300 million single sales and 55 billion career streams. Their multi-platinum debut album In the Lonely Hour became the biggest selling debut album of the decade, and Sam’s fourth studio album Gloria became their third #1 album. Sam Smith holds two Guinness World Records – for the most consecutive weeks in the UK Top 10 Album Chart (for their 2014 debut, In The Lonely Hour) and for having the first James Bond Theme to reach No.1 on the UK Charts (for the Oscar and Golden Globe winning Writing’s on the Wall).
Known worldwide as "The Voice" in honour of her inimitable vocal prowess, Whitney Houston is one of the best-selling music artists of all time with over 200 million album sales globally to date and the only artist to have achieved seven consecutive No. 1 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100. Released in 1987, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ is her most streamed UK song and BRIT Certified 3x Platinum; other hit singles over her 30+ year career include 'Saving All My Love For You', 'It’s Not Right (But It’s OK)' and 'I Will Always Love You' and 'My Love Is Your Love'.
The BRIT Billion trophy has been designed to high specifications using premium quality materials to reflect the exceptional achievement that this elite-level award represents. Created for the BPI by Gaudio Awards1, the design incorporates the iconic BRITs ‘B’ and an encapsulated BRITs statuette, and each award will be personalised with the recipient artist’s name.
Sophie Jones, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim Chief Executive, said: "For a recording artist, there can be few greater sources of pride than having a Platinum or Gold disc on their wall, but in an era when success in measured in the hundreds of millions and indeed billions of streams, it was clear that we needed a new and additional way to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement in recorded music, and I feel certain that having a BRIT Billion Award will become equally prized ."
YolanDa Brown DL OBE, musician and Chair of the BPI, said: "As a musician, nothing gives you a greater thrill than knowing that people are enjoying and connecting with your work. Being streamed in the billions represents a pinnacle of success – underlining the treasured bond that exists between artist and fan – and I congratulate all the inaugural recipient artists and their record labels on being honoured with a BRIT Billion award. I look forward to seeing many more artists achieve this incredible feat in the future."
Toby Leveson, Senior Digital Content Manager, BPI, said:
"The certifications scheme has always been a great measure of cultural cut-through, and we’re taking this to the next level with BRIT Billion, as the UK becomes the first country in the world to celebrate streaming success across an artist's entire catalogue. The variety of artists receiving the very first BRIT Billion Awards is a testament to the taste of the British public, from artists with timeless iconic tracks including ABBA, Mariah Carey, and Coldplay, to massive stars of recent years such as RAYE, Anne-Marie, and AJ Tracey."
May 4, 2023 4:00am ET by Pressparty