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Digital continues to boom as album sales continue to slide; and Sandé scores best selling album of 2012

By | Published on Wednesday 2 January 2013

Emeli Sande

While the digital music domain threw up all sorts of positive stats again in 2012, album sales were still down 11.2% overall, new figures from record label trade body the BPI and the Official Charts Company reveal today.

In the digital domain, single track sales had another record year, despite fears a couple of years back that the download market might be about to peak. Total single sales increased by 6% to 188.6 million units in 2012, 99.6% of that being digital, and all of the twenty best-selling singles of the year sold more than 500,000 copies each. Digital albums also saw sizeable increases, up 14.7% to 30.5 million units, though that wasn’t enough to compensate for a further 19.5% decline year-on-year in physical album sales.

Streaming music also became a crucial part of the mix in 2012 of course, even if in terms of overall revenues it remains a smaller income stream. According to the BPI/OCC stats, British music fans between them streamed audio tracks 3.7 billion times in 2012, which is apparently equivalent to 140 music streams for every household in the UK. The most streamed tracks of the year were Gotye ft Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ and David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’.

Homegrown acts dominated, with seven of the ten best selling artist albums of the year coming from UK acts, including the whole top three. Emeli Sandé’s debut album ‘Our Version Of Events’ was the best seller overall, shifting 1.4 million units, while two records from 2011 were the second and third best sellers of 2012 – Adele’s ’21’ and Ed Sheeran’s ‘+’.

Commenting on the stats, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: “The Jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympics provided a great showcase for British music internationally, but market conditions at home remained difficult and pressure on the ‘leisure wallet’ impacted music sales on the high street. However, the quality of our music and digital innovation by UK labels means we have excellent potential for domestic growth and to increase our share of the global music market. We hope government will recognise the potential of digital music to contribute to economic recovery and provide more active support in 2013”.