LONDON: Music downloads are gaining remarkable popularity in Britain. There have been more than 10 million legal downloads so far this year, against a recorded 5.7 million in the whole of 2004, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Industry watchers attribute the phenomenal increase to the action taken against illegal file-sharing sites late last year and the launch of several legal music sites and online stores like Apple’s iTunes and Napster.
BPI, the representative organisation in Britain, described the figure as a milestone and said tracks legally downloaded were higher in number than physical sale of singles for the first time in the last week of December 2004.
BPI’s chairman Peter Jamieson said the industry has accepted the legal download service and its rewards are now being felt. “The battle against illegal filesharing will continue, but we are delighted to have hit this milestone so soon.”
There were 659,377 digital single track downloads between April and June 2004 and 5,562,638 during the same period this year.
However, sales of CD singles continued to decline, by 23 per cent this year, from 5,721,873 between April and June 2004 to 4,408,453 during the same period this year. Artist albums sale went up by 2.2 per cent to 25,137,810 during April to June this year.
The 7-inch vinyl single recorded 87.3 per cent increase in the quarter, compared with last year, while the annual sales are expected to touch 1.4 million units, the best sales figure since 1998.
For the year ended March 2005, the best-selling 7-inch single is a limited edition reissue of Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. Other titles that dominated the format are Libertines, Babyshambles, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand.
Jamieson said, “Despite the incredible growth in download sales, there is still a huge demand for the collectible physical formats — it would be wrong to write them off just yet. Record companies are committed to meeting consumer demand in whatever format people want their music.”
The year 2004 also saw British music score in the U.S. Some 75 albums achieved the 100,000-sales mark, compared with 66 in 2003.
Earlier, Coldplay’s third album X&Y; entered at No 1 with first-week sales of 739,000. Its third studio album was the first British album to simultaneously top both the U.S. and U.K. charts since the Beatles 1 collection in 2000.
Said Jamieson: “We have not seen anything like it for a decade. From Coldplay to Oasis, Dido to Gorillaz, Lostprophets to Franz Ferdinand, British music is on the march.
“Music is still one of the U.K.’s great exports. We are by far the biggest exporter of music outside the U.S. We export many times more music to the U.S. than the rest of Europe put together.”