(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Britons are the world's greatest music fans according to new figures released by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) with each Briton buying on average 3.2 CDs per person per year. And figures released by the BPI's international counterpart, the IFPI, indicate that prospects for exports of UK signed repertoire around the world are improving with the decline in the global music industry beginning to level out.
The UK record industry had its best ever year for album sales with British-signed newcomers the Scissor Sisters and Keane topping the album charts in 2004. The UK market recorded an overall 3% increase in volume sales over 2004 with much attributable to its robust albums market. The UK releases around 26,000 albums per year – second only to the US in the number of releases. With a record 174.6 million units sold, the UK CD albums market continued to outperform its international counterparts in 2004 growing by 4.5%. After a dramatic increase in online and offline piracy in recent years, this represents a significant achievement for the UK recorded music industry.
"The strength of the UK market in the face of worldwide decline is a testament to the skills and courage of UK record companies who have never stopped taking risks in signing and developing some of the best talent in the world," said BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson. "Improving prospects for recorded music internationally is also good news for the UK since after the US we remain the world's biggest exporter of music."
A recovering US market saw per capita sales increase to 2.8 units, while the French (2.1), German (2.2) and Japanese (2.0) all bought around two units each. These latest statistics follow recent BPI research showing 55.4% of the UK population between 12 and 74 bought at least one album last year.
Overall, it was new UK-signed artists that drove sales last year, with three of 2004's Top 5 albums UK-signed debuts.
2004's Top 5 UK albums:
1. Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters
2. Hopes and Fears, Keane
3. Greatest Hits, Robbie Williams
4. Songs About Jane, Maroon 6
5. Call Off the Search, Katie Melua
"The UK is a nation of music lovers, so it's not surprising to see the UK at the top of this list," added Jamieson. "A slew of great new British artists have met UK music fans' demand for great music."
The growth in digital sales has also played a major part in helping the global music business tackle its five year decline with 200 million downloads sold in the world's four leading digital markets (US, UK, France and Germany) last year. The arrival of high-profile legitimate digital music services helped lift UK single-track purchasing by 4.0% in 2004 with 5.7 million downloads sold, the British singles market is also showing signs of recovery. With album bundles and sales of digital EPs also good in the UK, the Official UK Charts Company estimate that the total UK market for downloads topped 9 million units in 2004.
"The main choice today's music fan now has to make is whether to get music legally or illegally," said Jamieson. "As these figures show, more and more music fans are now making the right choice and helping make great British music." –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner