UK hits £1bn in downloads

Steve Dinneen
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UK Digital music sales finally broke through the £1bn mark yesterday, giving the industry a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

The milestone was reached after a surge in sales last year, with nearly a third of the total amount spent on music in 2010, according to figures released by industry body the BPI.

Digital music sales, which account for one in six albums sold in the UK, grew by 20 per cent last year.

Adele entered the record books, with her album 21 becoming the most popular download in UK history. Lady Gaga (above) was second with her album The Fame.

Six out of the top ten most downloaded records were British acts. Just 34 albums have been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

While overcoming the symbolic barrier is a welcome boost to the flagging industry, the fact that it has taken seven years of legal downloading to reach it also serves as a stark reminder of the problems that face the industry.

Overall revenue in the UK record industry plunged 11 per cent to £850m, precipitated by a 19.2 per cent fall in CD sales to £565m.

The UK fell behind Germany to become the fourth biggest music market, with the US, Japan and Germany now ranking above the UK.

Sales in the two biggest music markets, the US and Japan, fell by 10 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.

The global collapse in CD sales and the continuing blight of online piracy dragged global recorded music sales down by £900m.