Digital Drives UK Music Sales To 10-Year High, But Look Deeper

2009 Official Charts Company figures from the BPI show unit sales 15 percent up from 2008 to a decade high of 281.6 million, spurred by digital singles…

Digital resurrected the singles market in 2004. Virtually all of the 152.7 million singles sales were digital last year (98 percent, or 149.7 million). Accordingly, 32.6 percent more singles were sold overall last year than 2008.

But albums aren’t enjoying the same boost. Digital sales rose from 10.3 million to 16.1 million, but it wasn’t enough to stop albums overall shifting 3.5 percent fewer copies (128.9 million).

In fact, 2009 was the year when singles sales overtook album sales. So is the music industry in the much-talked-about collapse or renaissance? That depends on your disposition…

Glass half-full: These are record figures, suggesting music is more popular than ever – especially factoring in the 98 percent of downloads the IFPI reckons are illegal.

Glass half-empty: But these are unit sales, not income. Digital revenue is smaller than physical, so overall recorded music revenue is still dropping, as Forrester’s chart shows