The continued growth of digital album sales was the one positive note in some otherwise depressing quarter three figures, released today by U.K. labels trade body the BPI.
According to BPI data, digital album sales rose 24.2% year-on-year to 6.1 million units in Q3. The format now accounts for 28.2% of all U.K. album sales, up from 20.1% in the third quarter of 2010. That gain was not enough, however, to offset a 20.5% fall in physical sales, with 15.6 million CD albums being sold in the third quarter of 2011, down from 19.6 million in the corresponding period the previous year.
Third quarter albums sales across all formats - CD, digital and vinyl - dropped 11.4% to 21.8 million units from 24.6 million in 2010. In total, 72.3 million albums have been sold in the U.K. so far in 2011, compared to 76.2 million at the same point last year.
Unsurprisingly, Adele lays claims to two of the U.K.'s biggest selling albums of 2011 with "21" and "19" (both XL Recordings), respectively the No. 1 and No. 2 most bought records year to date. Bruno Mars "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" (Elektra/Warner Music) is No. 3.
In the singles market, digital also experienced significant third quarter growth, climbing 13% on 2010's third-quarter tally of 37.6 million units to 42.4 million. Year to date single sales, which are almost entirely in the digital format, stand at 130.6 million singles have been sold, compared to 117.5 million from January to September 2010.
Adele, once again, dominates the market with "Someone Like You" the best-selling single of 2011 so far. Jessie J's "Price Tag" (Lava/Universal Island) is at No. 2 with "Party Rock Anthem" (Interscope/Universal) by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and Goonrock at No. 3.
Commenting on the figures, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said in a statement: "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," he went on to say, before identifying upcoming releases from Coldplay, Kate Bush, Florence and the Machine, Snow Patrol and 2010 "X-Factor" winner Matt Cardle as key releases for quarter four.