Digital music sales fail to offset piracy losses

Music sales tumbled last year despite a rise in digital revenues, highlighting the industry's failure to get to grips with illegal downloading.

Sales of albums and singles in 2010 fell 7 per cent from a year earlier to 119.9 million, according to figures released by the British recorded music industry body BPI yesterday.

While digital album sales rose almost a third to 21 million, CD albums fell from 112.5 million to 98.5 million.

The picture was rosier in the singles market, which hit record sales of 161.8 million, 6 per cent higher than a year earlier. In the last week of 2010, the number of singles downloaded breached the 5 million mark for the first time. Digital sales represented 98 per cent of single sales for the year.

Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive, said that while the growth in digital sales was positive, "legal downloads are unable to offset the decline in CD sales because they are dwarfed by illegal competition". He said that "meaningful action to tackle illegal downloading remains absolutely critical if we are to stabilise British music sales, let alone return to growth," adding that otherwise investment in digital services and British musical talent would dry up.

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