Digital music spending overtakes sales of CDs and records for the first time

Digital sales hit 55.5 per cent of all sales in the first quarter of 2012

The amount of money made from digital music sales has overtaken the sale of CDs and records for the first time, according to figures from music industry trade body BPI.

In the first three months of 2012, £155.8m was spent on music in the UK, a 2.7 per cent year-on-year increase from 2011. Sales of digital music, including downloads, paid-for subscriptions and ad-funded services such as Spotify, Napster, We7 and eMusic has helped to offset the decline in CD sales – accounting for 55.5 per cent of that total, with sales increasing by 23.6 per cent.

While revenue from physical formats, such as CDs and vinyl dropped by 15 per cent to just £69.3m, sales of digital albums were up 22.7 per cent to £35.9m, outstripping music industry revenues from downloads of single tracks for a second successive quarter.

This is good news for the music industry after weekly UK Album chart sales fell to their lowest level since 1996 earlier this month. Total sales for the week ending May 20 were just under 1.35 million, which is 7.5 per cent down from last week and almost 250,000 lower than this time last year.

It was the lowest seven-day sale tally recorded since week-ending 22 June, 1996 when just 1,277,279 albums were sold.

 Singles sales are also down from last year’s mark by almost 7 per cent to just over 3.15 million for 2012 so far.