Digital now accounts for almost a third of all U.K. album sales, according to new market data released by British labels trade body the BPI - but that's not enough to prevent a 14.7% year-on-year slide in quarter one album sales.
According to BPI and Official Charts Company (OCC) data, 23 million albums -- both digital and physical formats -- were sold in the first quarter of 2012, down from 27 million units the previous year.
Despite digital album sales climbing 19.6% year-on-year to 7.6 million units, CD sales fell by 25.4% in the same period, dropping from 20.5 million to 15.3. million. Digital now accounts for 33.1% of all U.K. album sales, up from 23.6% in quarter one 2011.
The U.K. digital singles market also continues to grow year-on-year. A total of 46.7 million singles were sold in the first quarter of this year, up 4.4% on last year's comparative sales tally of 44.7 million units. Digital has long been the dominant format in the U.K. singles market, accounting for 99.7% of all sales.
In a continuation of her 2011 dominance, Adele's "21" (XL Recordings) is the biggest-selling U.K. album of this year's first quarter, a feat she also achieved with the same record in quarter one 2011. Lana Del Rey's "Born To Die" (Polydor/Universal) is the second highest-seller. "Our Version Of Events," (Virgin/EMI) by Scottish-born vocalist Emile Sandé is at number three. Sales figures were not provided.
"Somebody That I Used To Know" (Universal Island) by Gotye featuring Kimbra is the biggest-selling single of 2012 in the U.K. so far. The second highest is "Titanium" (Positiva/Virgin/EMI) by David Guetta featuring Sia, followed by Jessie J's "Domino" (Lava/Universal Island). All three have sold in excess of 500,000 copies, according to the BPI/OCC.
"The release schedule for 2011 was front-loaded with stellar album releases from Adele, Jessie J, Bruno Mars and others," said BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor in a statement. "Fewer banner releases were scheduled in Q1 of this year, but it is encouraging that consumer confidence in digital albums continued to grow with the format now bagging a third of sales overall," Taylor went on to say, adding, "Digital has been the dominant format on some key albums during the first quarter of 2012, and we expect that growth to continue."