Music sales still fall, digital music sales rise

The music industry is seeing a dramatic rise in digital revenues, but these have not been able to offset a fall in traditional music sales.

According to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry, sales of albums and singles in 2010 fell seven percent from a year earlier to 119.9 million.

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

The BPI insists that the slump is due to evil pirates and is calling for a pirate to be crucified at every half mile of the M4 as a warning to others.

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

However the figures seem to reveal something a little different. For a start the singles market was six percent higher than last year on 161.8 million.

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.

So what we are seeing is the death of the album which used to be the biggest money spinner for the industry. The album, as Pink Floyd found out this week, is next to near useless for sales on formats where people download long lists of singles they like.

True, piracy is a problem for the industry, but it is not the only thing to blame. The fundamental structure of the entertainment industry and music is changing and it seems that the BPI has not worked that out yet.

Of course I could start to show my age and say that the artists of today are shallow, pointless, untalented morons and the industry does not make decent music any more. However my Dad pointed out that he said the same thing in the 1980s.