The dawn of digital music distribution has seen the UK music industry enjoy its best 12 months for album sales in history, with 237 million units sold.

While interest in music reawakens, digital downloads drove single track sales up 9.4 per cent in the third quarter, with 1.75 million sales through multiple online distributors, compared with 7.3 million physical single sales.

"Download sales are currently running at up to a quarter of a million units each week," the BPI said, adding, "more than 40,000 different tracks each week are being downloaded".

BPI research director, Chris Green, said: "The level of legitimate downloading in the UK clearly demonstrates that consumer demand for music on a track-by-track basis remains strong."

DVD sales climbed dramatically - up 52.1 per cent. Album sales also rose, by three per cent, and 51.9 million albums shifted in the third quarter.

UK artists drove UK album sales, with eleven of the top twenty albums in the quarter from UK-signed artists, four of these being new acts; indeed, the top five singles were all by British artists.

BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said: "We should be proud of the achievements of British artists in particular and the resilience of the UK music market in general. With the industry continuing to invest in new British talent whilst embracing the opportunities provided by new technology there are strong indicators that the market vitality will only get better."