Digital music sales are booming and 2005 was one of the UK music industry's best years yet, said the BPI this morning.
Record label trade association the BPI observed that digital music sales climbed 357 per cent in 2005, with 26.4 million legitimate download sales taking place.
UK iPod Christmas
There were stronger-than-anticipated traditional music sales in the weeks before Christmas, when album sales climbed 40 per cent and internationally-successful UK artists drove album sales to their best year yet - 126.2 million units, up 44 per cent in six years.
But it's digital sales that are truly driving single-track sales, which rose 48 per cent in 2005. Confirming expectations, delighted new iPod owners who unwrapped Apple's double-CD-sized music player boxes beside their Christmas tree, drove download sales higher than ever, the BPI confirmed.
During the week between Christmas and New Year weekly digital sales topped 1 million units for the first time.
2m downloads in two weeks
And in the last two weeks of the year almost 2 million downloads were sold, according to the Official UK Chart Company (OCC) which monitors sales in almost 6,000 stores and Internet sites across the UK.
BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said: "The music industry's firm line on digital music piracy and its support for new digital music retailers has seen the digital music market grow by 350 per cent in 2005."
However, the industry clearly has another victim in its sights for 2006. The BPI is beginning to complain about music fans creating CD compilations at home for personal use and to share new sounds with their friends.
"While many consumers are now opting to use legal digital music services to do DIY compilations, both CD burning in the home and commercial music piracy are putting pressure on compilation sales," it said.