Figures for the first quarter of 2012 show that for the first time ever, sales of digital music through services such as iTunes, emusic and spotify have overtaken CDs and vinyl sales.
According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), digital sales accounted for over 55% of total revenue across the industry. The trade association measures sales and revenues for all major record companies including Warner, EMI, Sony, Universal and hundreds more, account for around 90% of all recorded music in the UK.
Also, despite the ongoing recession, teh industry has seen an overall growth of 2.7% compared to last years figures. The BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said:
“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. As a result, the industry’s prospects for growth look brighter than for several years.
We will need to see this trend repeated for several quarters to say we have turned the corner – demand for physical CDs remains strong in the UK, especially in Q4. However, the creativity, investment and digital expertise of the British music industry point the way forward for growth in the UK economy”.
Initially slow to respond to the changing market, record companies have clearly accepted the way that the public are choosing to obtain their favourite albums and songs. Services such as Spotify have resulted in a huge boost in paid-for subscription services, which contributed heavily to the switchover.
As music becomes available through an increasing range of devices such as mobile phones and tablets, and as internet-savvy teenagers grow up, this trend is sure to continue.
Albums by Adele, Lana Del Rey, Emile Sande and Ed Sheeran certainly haven’t detracted from this change, but CDs are still the format of choice for album sales throughout the nation, and vinyl sales grew 39% in 2011, showing that people still hunger for a tangible product, and many of these vinyl releases now come with a download code so you can easily get a version for your MP3 player.
As an early-adopter in the MP3 revolution, I make good use of my iTunes and emusic connoisseur account, and had no problem switching from the digital CD format to the more ethereal MP3. Despite the tens of thousands of MP3s I’ve purchased, I still buy and revel in the feel of a Vinyl LP, crackles and all, you just can’t beat it!
What’s your chosen format for music, do you still buy CDs or have you made the digital switchover?