Legal downloading boosts British music industry, new figures suggest

But BPI stats show physical sales have declined for sixth year in a row

Statistics revealed by the British Phonographic Industry suggest that the British music industry is keeping afloat thanks to money made from legal internet downloads.

The figures showed a 1.4 per cent annual increase in overall income for 2009 for the industry.

Thanks to online streaming and legal music downloads, the revenue for digital services increased from £127.8 million in 2008 to £188.9 million last year – marking a 47.8 per cent increase in profit for digital income.

Money made digitally and online now makes up 20.3 per cent of the industry’s annual income. Physical music format sales have declined by 6.1 per cent, continuing a downward trend in sales which has lasted for six years.

“It’s encouraging to see industry revenues stabilise and even show modest growth in 2009,” BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said. “This is testament to continuing investment by UK labels in talented artists despite challenging economic conditions, and the innovation labels have shown in licensing new digital services.”

Taylor added that despite this, the music industry is not as profitable as it once was. “Let’s put it in broader perspective,” he said. “2009’s modest result follows a five-year drop in annual income, and total industry income has not exceeded £1bn since 2006.”

Taylor blamed this loss of income on illegal downloading.