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Digital album sales grow by almost a quarter

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Almost three in 10 UK albums are now bought online in digital formats, new data from the BPI showed today.

Some 28.2% of UK albums sold in the third quarter of this year were downloaded, the organisation said. In all, digital album sales were up by 24.2%, rising to 6.1m between July and September. But at the same time sales of physical CDs fell more sharply, falling by 20.5% to 15.6m, from 19.6m. That meant total album sales across CD, digital and vinyl fell by 11.4% to 21.8m, from 24.6m a year ago.

The growth of the digital singles market continued. Some 42.4m were sold between July and September, 13% up on the same time last year when 37.6m singles were sold. So far this year, 130.6m singles have been sold, compared to 117.5m from January to September 2010.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “While trading conditions are tough on the High Street, the strong pace of growth in the digital music market is extremely encouraging for the future. 2011 is shaping up to be a third record year for singles, which are now almost entirely a digital business.

“But the real story is how consumers are connecting with the value and instant enjoyment offered by the digital album. A growth rate of almost 25% is an outstanding performance for any sector in these difficult economic times.”

Adele boasted the top-selling two albums of the year, while her Someone Like You was the UK’s biggest-selling single of 2011 so far.

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