BPI Looks For Silver Lining

Unless decisive action is taken in 2012, investment in music could fall again and cause a creative crunch that will destroy jobs and prevent the next Adele from getting her chance to shine, according to the British Phonographic Industry.

The BPI says other countries take positive steps to protect their creative sector, while the UK government has taken too long to combat piracy.

Figures for 2011 show the value of the UK recorded music market has fallen once again, despite the fact that sales of singles smashed all-time records for the fourth year in succession.

Album sales continue to fall. Combined sales of digital and physical albums fell 5.6 percent to 113.2 million units in 2011. Digital album sales rose 26.6 percent, but CD album sales dropped by 12.6 percent to 86.2 million.

The CD format still accounts for about 75 percent of the UK album market.

The BPI says it’s encouraged by the “growing consumer confidence” in the digital format, where sales grew by about 5.59 million. But that’s less than half the 12.3 million lost on the physical side.

The figures, which were prepared by the Official Charts Company and published Jan. 2, show that last year 15 albums sold more than 100,000 digital copies.

However, the evidence shows the market trend is further toward downloading individual tracks or bundles.

Singles sales increased 10.0 percent to 177.9 million, with the vast majority –more than 99 percent – sold as digital tracks and bundles.

The CD single appears to be in terminal decline. It shifted a mere 1.1 million copies, and the format sold less than 1 percent of the 177 million singles sold in 2011. Singles are up 10 percent on 2010.

“The most encouraging news of the year is the strong backing consumers are giving to the digital album format,” according to BPI chief exec Geoff Taylor. “British music fans understand that the album remains the richest way to connect with an artist’s work. Digital developments grab the headlines, but the CD remains hugely popular with consumers.

“Physical ownership is important to many fans and the CD will be a key element of the market for years to come,” he said.

Adele’s 21 was by far the biggest-selling album of the year, ending 2011 with sales of more than 3.8 million. That’s more than double the 1.8 million sales of Take That’s Progress, which was the best seller of 2010.

21 also became the highest-selling UK album of the 21st century, achieving more sales in a single calendar year than any other album in British chart history.