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2005 UK Record Sales Have Late Surge

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —

New figures released by UK record companies' trade association the BPI show that a late Christmas sales boom, a rapidly expanding digital market and a growing appetite for homegrown talent contributed to UK music having one of its best years yet.

Despite gloomy retail reports throughout 2005, strong sales in the last few weeks of the year and the sustained success of British-signed artists helped end the year on a positive note. Sales of artist albums increased 1.4% on 2004 – itself a record year – to enjoy their best year yet at 126.2 million units.

This high comes after six years of year-on-year growth in artist album sales from 87.7 million in 1999 to 126.2millon in 2005, an increase of 44% in just six years.
The strength and attractiveness of artist albums put pressure on sales of compilations, which fell nearly 16%, but overall album sales were down just 2.7%.

"The rise of compilations and the Pop Idol phenomenon led some to suggest the days of the great artist album were numbered," said BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson. "On the contrary, strong investment in new talent means album sales are flourishing."

2005 at a glance:

  • Best year in history for the artist album, with sales up 1.4% on 2005;
  • UK acts dominate album charts in 2005 with British acts occupying all Top Five positions;
  • Pre-Christmas boom lifts sales 40% in record week for albums;
  • Compilations down 15.7%;
  • The single's recovery continues as annual single-track purchases rise 48%;
  • 26.4 million downloads sold in 2005, up 357%; and
  • Weekly download sales top 1 million for the first time in final week of 2005.

Sales in the pre-Christmas week (week 51) saw album sales soar by 40% on the same week in 2004, in a week that saw albums sales top 10.6 million – the biggest weekly album sales figure ever recorded.

The week between Christmas and New Year (week 52) saw another significant milestone passed as weekly digital sales topped 1 million units for the first time. An uplift in digital sales in the final week of the year – much of it prompted by consumers who got new digital music players for Christmas – coupled with the race for the Christmas number one, saw almost 2 million downloads sold in the last two weeks of the year.

And once again, British-signed talent is behind the success – in the albums market, 2005's runaway debuts by James Blunt, Kaiser Chiefs and KT Tunstall were joined by hotly anticipated albums from established acts such as Coldplay, Gorillaz and Robbie Williams.

"A rich crop of albums from both debut and established acts meant that 2005 will be remembered as yet another great year for British music, and helped us record the best year ever for artist album sales," said Jamieson. "And the music industry's firm line on digital music piracy and its support for new digital music retailers has seen the digital music market grow by 350% in 2005."

The growth in digital and the best-ever year for artist albums helped the UK outperform expectations, but compilation sales declined causing total albums sales to slip slightly by 2.7%. Although established compilation brands such as Now! (EMI / Universal) and Clubland (All Around The World / UMTV) sustained strong sales throughout 2005 – after a steady growth in compilation sales through 2000-2004, the compilation market dipped by 15.7% in 2005.

Illegal compilations bought from markets and boot fairs, particularly in compressed MP3s on CD-R is the fastest growing form of piracy, increasing by 100% in 2004. While many consumers are now opting to use legal digital music services to do DIY compilations, both CD burning in the home and commercial music piracy are putting pressure on compilation sales. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen