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Digital music outsells physical media in the UK for the first time

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A report by the British Phonographic Industry shows that digital music sales have eclipsed physical media in the UK for the first time, and that the industry is aggressively looking to the future of digital distribution.

Spotify for iPad
Spotify for iPad

The British Phonographic Industry has released a report showing that physical music sales have been eclipsed by digital sales in the UK this year — a landmark achievement that the US experienced in 2011. The report indicates that 55.5 percent of the UK's music revenues came from digital sales, resulting in part in a 2.7 percent increase in overall revenue over Q1 of last year, totaling £155.8 million. In contrast, physical media sales fell by 15.1 percent to £69.3 million, though BPI's chief executive, Geoff Taylor, says that CD sales remain a strong source of revenue.

One of the BPI's most interesting numbers relates to à la carte and subscription based revenue, which increased 23.6 percent in Q1 to the tune of £86.5 million, or around $133 million. Considering the difference in population, this jump in digital sales revenue is rather impressive when compared to the $241 million the US generated last year. While the RIAA claims that music piracy is simply out of control, Geoff Taylor says this regarding these record-breaking digital music figures:

"This is a significant milestone in the evolution of the music business. UK record labels have embraced digital to their core, supporting innovation and licensing more new online and mobile services than any other country. As a result, the industry's prospects for growth look brighter than for several years.

The internet has thrown many industries out of a comfortable equilibrium, and we hope that BPI's results will inspire other industries to embrace the opportunity of internet, rather than try to inhibit it.