Figures from the Official UK Chart Company demonstrate that the record industry can’t have its cake and eat it: although paid music downloads this year have just broken the 500,000 barrier, CD single sales are down. Something has to give somewhere, and music lovers are turning to the convenience of downloads whilst buying correspondingly less singles.
The bestselling download in the UK so far this year is “2,000 Miles” by Coldplay.
Looking at the quarterly totals for January/March, the sales value of CD singles is down by 32% on last year, whilst CD albums are down nearly 3% this year, though the picture for the entire last 12 months is more encouraging.
Surprisingly, that great love of DJs, the 12” single has suffered a dip of 14%, possibly due to the slump in interest in trance – but bafflingly, 7” singles are up 47% on last year. Expect a retro CD single sales peak in about 2021.
Once iTunes launches in the UK and the new Napster finds its feet, we expect that CD singles will be affected even more dramatically, and music labels will need to find some way to make singles more compelling to the public to avoid cannibalising the market.
The British Phonographic Industry is upbeat about the state of the market, expecting great things from DVD music sales and “truetones” (ringtones that sound just like the track they’ve sampled) – no doubt something to do with the 3.8% increase in CD album sales that the year to March 2004 saw above 2003.