2023 proved to be a record-breaking year for women in music – as new figures show that female musicians dominated the best-selling albums and singles over the past 12 months.

However, concerns have been raised about new talent finding it harder to emerge on the charts.

The new figures showing the most popular tracks and albums in the UK over the past 12 months were published by the British Phonographic Institute (BPI), and revealed that the 2023 charts were led by female acts.

According to the report, women spent 31 weeks at the top of the UK singles chart and accounted for seven of the year’s 10 biggest singles.

These tracks include ‘Flowers’ by Miley Cyrus, which was released in January and went on to spend 10 weeks at the top of the singles charts. Other female acts who dominated the singles chart included Dua Lipa, Kenya Grace, Ellie Goulding, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, RAYE and more.

More impressively, 48.5 per cent of all songs to reach the Top 10 in 2023 were released by women – a milestone which meant it was female musicians’ highest annual share of Top 10 hits of the century. Check out the 10 best-selling singles of the year overall below.

Top 10 singles of 2023

1. Miley Cyrus – ‘Flowers’
2. Dave & Central Cee – ‘Sprinter’
3. RAYE ft 070 Shake – ‘Escapism’
4. Taylor Swift – ‘Anti-Hero’
5. Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding – ‘Miracle’
6. Rema ft Selena Gomez – ‘Calm Down’
7. SZA – ‘Kill Bill’
8. PinkPantheress ft Ice Spice – ‘Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2’
9. Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’
10. Libianca – ‘People’

As for albums, The Guardian reported that the last 12 months marked the ninth year of growth for the British music industry, with sales and streams increasing by 10 per cent (equivalent to 182.8million albums) and streaming hitting a record high with 179.6billion over the year. This is up 12.8 per cent on 2022 and nearly double that of 2018.

The sales of vinyl also continued to grow for the 16th year in a row: increasing by nearly 12 per cent to 6.1million units, the highest level since 1990.

That being said, due to the dominance of streaming, which makes it easy to access LPs from previous years, there were no new albums from 2023 that made the year’s overall Top 10 – with the exception of Taylor Swift’s re-recording of her 2014 album ‘1989’.

Instead, the figures by the BPI revealed that the Top 10 albums included three albums from the year prior, and was mostly filled by rediscovered classics and greatest hits compilations. Check out the full list below.

Top 10 albums of 2023

1. The Weeknd – ‘The Highlights’ (2021)
2. Taylor Swift – ‘Midnights’ (2022)
3. Taylor Swift – ‘1989’ (Taylor’s Version) (2023)
4. Elton John – ‘Diamonds’ (2017)
5. Harry Styles – ‘Harry’s House’ (2022)
6. Fleetwood Mac – ’50 Years: Don’t Stop’ (2018)
7. Eminem – ‘Curtain Call: The Hits’ (2005)
8. SZA – ‘SOS’ (2022)
9. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’ (2013)
10. Abba – ‘Gold: Greatest Hits’ (1992)

Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Monday, Aug. 7, 2023.
Taylor Swift performs during The Eras Tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

With streaming making it easy to access decades-worth of material at the touch of a button, concerns have been raised that it is harder for new music to make an impact – particularly new music by lesser-known artists.

According to BPI’s figures, ‘Flowers’ by Miley Cyrus was the only song released in 2023 to be certified double platinum, and in the album market, no releases were popular enough to be awarded a platinum disc (representing 300,000 sales).

As reported by the BBC, in 2013, 14 new albums hit that milestone, and in 2003, 51 new albums at the time went platinum.

“A new generation of artists is not building fanbases that will buy gig and festival tickets in two, five, or 10 years’ time, and is not popularising songs that will have ubiquity in our culture once this generation of music fans reaches old age,” Music writer Patrick Clifton wrote on Medium, describing the results as a “crisis” for the British music industry.

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