A fourth successive record year for singles and growing consumer confidence in digital albums could not offset a further decline in overall UK music sales, according to new Official Charts Company figures released by the BPI. “It has been another record year for digital singles, but the most encouraging news of the year is the strong backing consumers are giving to the digital album format,” said Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive.
Interestingly, the CD remains the favoured format for UK album buyers in 2011, accounting for 76.1% of total sales compared to a 23.5% market share for digital and 0.3% for vinyl. Consumer appetite for digital album downloads has continued to grow, however, said Taylor with 15 albums selling more than 100,000 digital copies in 2011. Sales of vinyl LPs rose by well over a third (43.7%) during 2011 to 337,000, their highest tally since 2005. Digital album sales rose 26.6% to 26.6m, while sales of albums on CD declined 12.6% year-on-year to 86.2m in total. However, combined sales of digital and physical albums fell overall by 5.6% to 113.2m in 2011.
“British music fans understand that the album remains the richest way to connect with an artist’s work,” said Taylor. “Digital developments grab the headlines, but the CD remains hugely popular with consumers, accounting for three-quarters of album sales. Physical ownership is important to many fans and the CD will be a key element of the market for years to come.”
The UK singles market went from strength to strength in 2011, with sales smashing all-time records for the fourth straight year in succession. Total singles sales increased 10.0% overall to 177.9m in 2011, with the vast majority (99.3%) sold as digital tracks and bundles. 1.1m CD singles were sold in 2011, representing just 0.6% of the total. All of the top 20 best-selling singles of 2011 sold more than 500,000 copies apiece.
It was a good year for UK artists in general, with five of the top 10 selling artist albums in 2011 from British acts. One of the main stars of the year was Adele, whose album 21 was the biggest-ever selling album in a single year at 3.8m sales. “British artists continue to produce incredible music that resonates at home and around the world,” said Taylor.
“But while other countries take positive steps to protect their creative sector, our Government is taking too long to act on piracy, while weakening copyright to the benefit of US tech giants. The UK has already fallen behind Germany as a music market. Unless decisive action is taken in 2012, investment in music could fall again – a creative crunch that will destroy jobs and mean the next Adele may not get her chance to shine on the world stage.”