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UK Digital Music Sales Soar Despite Threat from ISP Internet Piracy

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 (10:06 am) - Score 1,983

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which claims to represent the United Kingdom’s music industry, has once again reported “strong growth” from digital music sales during 2012 (e.g. digital album sales were up 14.8% to 30.5m) and that’s despite the perceived threat from internet piracy by broadband ISP consumers.

It’s interesting to note that this year’s annual report makes no mention of piracy (copyright infringement), which is in stark contrast to last year when the BPI’s CEO, Geoff Taylor, warned that the government was taking “too long to act on piracy” and risked “weakening copyright to the benefit of US tech giants“.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI, said:

2012 was an encouraging year for UK artists and for music’s digital future. Digital albums grew strongly and singles sales hit a new record. Music fans are now streaming billions of songs from new services enabled by record labels.

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.”

It should however be said that traditional physical music CD sales have continued to decline, although this is often caused by the fact that digital music allows consumers to pick and choose what tracks they like from an album (i.e. ignoring the rubbish). Not to mention the still dire economic conditions and the fact that the CD as a medium is gradually disappearing.

uk digital music sales 2012

The music industry also spent much of 2012 putting pressure on broadband providers to block (censor) access to popular internet piracy websites, such as The Pirate Bay. Curiously this doesn’t appear to have had much of an impact on the organic growth of digital music during 2012, although it’s still early days.

Elsewhere the much delayed Digital Economy Act (DEA), which controversially seeks to warn and ultimately punish (e.g. disconnect) ISP customers whom are “suspected” of involvement with internet copyright infringement, won’t even begin to send its first warning letters until early 2014.

The BPI hopes that this, combined with potentially tougher “technical measures” in the future (e.g. the widely disliked idea of temporary service disconnection), should give the UK music industry a boost. But critics still question such expectations (i.e. somebody who downloads 500 music tracks for “free” may never have brought that many in the first place).

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Timeless says:

    strikes me the music industry isnt about music.. its about making as much money as possible.. the problem with them is while they loose some sales through piracy they arent satisfied until they extort even more money out of us.

  2. Avatar DTMark says:

    Good to see vinyl still going surprisingly strongly – I gave up on buying hard formats when vinyl died the first time and you had to buy the CD.

    My favourite artist, Paola Peroni, started her own digital only label, released what has turned into my all time fave tune just last year, chats on YouTube messenger, and is adorable. Am I insane for wanting a “give twenty quid to Paola Peroni” button I can press to send the cash for that tune which cost me about a pound on iTunes and probably only netted her a few pence..

    Even fairly obscure stuff is available on Juno or iTunes now. Would be nice if the movie industry got with the proverbial programme.

  3. Avatar Gary Hough says:

    No surprise really is it as once again this clearly highlights the growth of a market that with sensible consumer models will itself reduce piracy as opposed to spending millions trying to force the ISP industry to do it for them.

    If the right products are available and priced sensibly consumers will buy it – Fact (No pun intended).

  4. Avatar Stuart says:

    Looks like there doing well, I find something odd, they claim theres decrease in actual cd’s etc, however they dont note that digital is up more than the amount they lost in cd sales from the year before.

  5. Avatar Timeless says:

    its plain and simple greed if you ask me tho.. like l said they keep on complaining about it… however again and again you see dismal stories about how piracy dents their sales when in truth they have been going up!!

    if artists have anyone to complain at it should be the media companies protecting their rights who take a bigger chunk of their earnings.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I was getting at that last point in my post above… Paola Peroni has had a few reasonably successful tunes over the years (only one in the UK under another name, back in 1995 which got to number 24 and was in the top 40 for just 2 weeks) but I don’t suppose she gets a great deal if she tries to get a traditional company to distrubute her work in hard-formats.

      The internet should mean she fares better out of this, but from what I have read – not sure about iTunes – but Spotify doesn’t exactly reward their artists well.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      Hmmm. I stand corrected, it was in 1997. I’m sad enough to have sourced the clip of the moment Mark Goodier announced it entering the chart on the Top 40 show.

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