Music slump ends as CD single sales rise and legal downloads boom

By Sherna Noah
Monday 08 July 2013 06:06

Sales of CD singles have risen for the first time in five years. In the past two decades, CD single sales have plummeted to about 36 million a year from about 72 million in the early 1980s.

The slump has been blamed on downloading from websites and bootlegging and some high street stores have pulled out of the market altogether.

But from April to June, sales of CD singles went up for the first time since 1999, to 6.6 million, a 15.4 per cent increase from this time last year, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The turnaround is being partly attributed to the decision to introduce a new lower-priced, two-track CD single in response to flagging sales.

The popularity of tracks such as Eamon's "F*** It (I Don't Want You Back)", the biggest-selling single of the quarter, which sold more than half a million copies, is also being seen as contributing to the rise.

But the annual value of single sales is still lower than last year, at £60,512 compared with last year's £75,062.

There is good news for the legal download market, according to the quarterly market review. A total of 1.5 million legal downloads were sold over the past three months, after the UK launch of iTunes and Napster.

Sales have increased from 100,000 to 500,000 a month to make two million permanent download sales so far this year.

Peter Jamieson, the chairman of BPI, said: "Downloading increasingly means that consumers can buy what they want when they want it.

"After years of work laying the foundations for the legal download business, the industry is seeing its dream of a celestial jukebox coming true." The BPI said that album sales were also up 3.7 per cent.

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