Music: Album sales plunge

Album sales have plummeted by seven per cent in the past year, new figures show.

The data, which includes download sales and physical albums such as CDs, reveals nine million fewer were sold in 2010 compared with the previous 12 months.

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And the figures from music industry body the BPI show album sales have dropped by 22.5% since 2006 levels - down from 154.7 million to 119.9 million.

CD album sales have fallen 52.9 million in that time - more than a third - to 98.5 million in 2010.

But digital sales, while growing, have failed to show a corresponding rise, going up 18.2 million to 21 million.

Despite a much-repeated suggestion that vinyl single sales have seen a resurgence, the figures, compiled by the Official Chart Company, show they have now hit rock bottom. While total seven-inch sales amounted to more than a million in 2006, that figure is down 85% to just 152,000.

Twelve-inch singles have fared even worse, down from 1.3 million to just 67,000 in four years.

Overall singles sales have grown hugely each year since 2006 from 66.9

million to 161.8 million - although these figures now include sales of all individually downloaded tracks in addition to those formally released as singles.

Music bosses claim the drop in album sales is as a result of ongoing problems with illegal downloads.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: "2010 showed that the digital singles highs seen in the previous two years were no fluke - music fans continue to embrace the convenience, value and choice offered by legal download stores.

"The market for digital albums also went mainstream in 2010 with nearly a fifth of sales now coming from online services."

He added: "Yet however encouraging it is to see the digital market grow, this must be seen against the bigger picture. Despite unprecedented demand for music, and strong innovation offering consumers new ways to access music online, legal downloads are unable to offset the decline in CD sales because they are dwarfed by illegal competition."

BPI chairman Tony Wadsworth said: "It is now crucial that action to stem illegal downloading, incentivising continued investment in this popular art form, is implemented decisively and urgently."

Take That's Progress was the UK's biggest-selling album of 2010, with more than 1.8 million copies.

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