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Best Year EVER For UK Digital Music Singles
July 7, 2010
Thomas Mennecke
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With the litany of lawsuits flying across the globe with regards to file-sharing, one would think that catastrophe was only moments away. Yet 10+ years after the arrival of Napster, the world still exists and remarkably, people are still buying entertainment. Surprised? You shouldn't be - people have been and always will buy something they find value in. And over the course of 10 years, the digital music market is showing signs of success. Today, the BPI announced that 2009 was the best year for single sales ever.

How is this possible in a world of BitTorrent madness? The growth of single music sales is attributable to digital sales, which have grown considerably since the music industry realized several years too late that physical CDs were obsolete. Since digital tracks were introduced, sales have increased from 5.7 million in 2002 and reached a record of nearly 118 million as of October of 2009.

Physical sales? Forget it. Physical sales are continuing to decline at an accelerated rate. Take the year 2002, when things weren’t so terrible for the music industry – there were 44 million physical CD single sales. That number has plummeted to just 1.6 million in 2009. We expect this number to decline further, and will likely fall below 1 million in 2010 as more people realize that buying a big disc with only 1 or 2 songs makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Here’s what the BPI had to say about the situation: “That singles have hit these heights while there are still more than a billion illegal downloads every year in the UK is testimony to the quality of releases this year and the vibrancy of the UK download market. Consumers are responding to the value and innovation offered by the legal services and these new figures show how the market could explode if Government acts to tackle illegal peer-to-peer filesharing.”

Considering that Governments are often times hopelessly broken, we find it rather amusing the music industry is placing their best hopes within this institution. Also of note is that digital sales aren’t growing quite as fast as they did in the 2000s. Additionally, with digital tracks selling for about $0.99 per download, this growth doesn’t reflect parallel revenue growth with physical tracks. The music industry will have to consider other methods other than a bureaucracy to help them out of this mess.

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