Digital Music Sales Surpass Physical Sales For The First Time

on in Industry News


Digital Music Sales Surpass Physical Sales For The First Time

It seems that the battle between physical and digital music formats continues, with recent news from the UK swinging heavily in digital music’s favour.

Undercover reports that, for the first time ever, sales from downloads are greater than those of CDs and vinyl in the first sales quarter of the year in England.

Taking their reports from the figures released by the British music industry’s official body, BPI, that show that digital revenue accounted for 55.5% of income in the first three months of the year, therefore overtaking physical sales for the first recorded time.

The sharp increase in digital revenue over the three-month period also demonstrates enormous growth, which boosted the industry’s overall market value by 2.7% to £155.8m, which offsets the steady drop in physical sales, nearly 15.1% in fact – to £69.3m.

In contrast, the boost also marks a year-on-year increase in digital sales by nearly 25% (to £86.5m) and more interestingly, digital sales of albums rose against the typical standard of downloading single tracks.

Commenting on the figures, BPI Chief Executive, Geoff Taylor remarked, “this is a significant milestone in the evolution of the music business. UK record labels have embraced digital to their core, supporting innovation and licensing more new online and mobile services than any other country.  As a result, the industry’s prospects for growth look brighter than for several years.”

Despite the sway towards digital sales, Taylor also added that “we will need to see this trend repeated for several quarters to say we have turned the corner” adding that demand for physical CDs and vinyl remained strong in UK markets, particularly during the Christmas time in the fourth quarter sales period.

Another enormous boon to the figures can be attribute not just to the consistent popularity of iTunes,but to the newer paid subscription plans and advertising revenues employed in popular streaming services; such as (the recently Australian launched) Spotify, Rdio and Deezer.

The income of paid subscriptions almost doubling (at 93%) from last year’s figures as users migrate in large numbers from free streaming to the premium tiers of various online streaming services. The UK being one of the first countries to recognise the dramatic cultural shift that services like Spotify represent, being the first country to introduce a streaming chart; with ARIA recently announcing they’ll be following suit with their own version before the end of the year.


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