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More music downloads sold than CDs

Digital music revenues have overtaken those for CDs for the first time, marking a milestone for the music industry.

Income from downloads and streaming services made up 56% of the £156 million that music buyers spent in the first quarter of the year.

Figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) show cash from digital sales has risen by nearly a quarter, year on year, to £86.5 million. At the same time, revenue from physical formats, such as CD and vinyl, slumped by 15%, and now represents just £69.3 million.

Album downloads have soared by 22% during the first three months of the year. They bring in more income than single downloads, and this is the second successive quarter in which this has occurred.

For many years the music industry seemed to be fighting a losing battle to convince people to pay for online music, with many simply trading it for free. But the new figures suggest paid-for services have become more of the norm.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said of the first quarter results: "This is a significant milestone in the evolution of the music business. UK record labels have embraced digital to their core, supporting innovation and licensing more new online and mobile services than any other country."

He emphasised that there was still strong demand for CDs, particularly in the Christmas market.

Figures recently published in the BPI's yearbook show that last year physical formats still represented 64.6% of UK music sales for the year overall.

Last year the UK music industry as a whole was worth £795 million, down 3.4% on the previous year. It was worth £1.2 billion in 2003.

Mr Taylor added that the prospects of growth for the industry looked brighter than they have for many years.


From Belfast Telegraph