Shipments of compilation albums in the U.K. recorded a 4.1% year-on-year rise in volume last year, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). However, compilations' share of the entire 2003

Shipments of compilation albums in the U.K. recorded a 4.1% year-on-year rise in volume last year, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). However, compilations' share of the entire 2003 U.K. albums market was down slightly from 24.8% to 24.1% -- the same level recorded in 2000. The BPI attributes this discrepancy to "a very strong year for artist album releases," such as hits from Dido and the Darkness. The report does not give actual compilation shipments totals.

Much of the data in the report comes from the Official U.K. Charts Co., whose value information is based on PPD (published price to dealers) rather than actual sales prices. For that reason, the report focuses on volume.

The evergreen "NOW That's What I Call Music!" (EMI Virgin/UMTV) series took three of the top five positions in the year-end compilations chart, including the top spot. "Power Ballads" (EMI Virgin) and "Pop Party" (UMTV) were the other top-five entries, each shifting more than 500,000 units.

The ailing dance sector's fortunes continued to erode in 2003. Dance music's share of the compilation market fell to 20.7% in 2003 from 27.5% the year before, punctuated by an "unusually weak period" in the third quarter.

The study also illustrates the rise of supermarkets in the compilations market. For the year, supermarkets had 30.1% of the compilations market, ahead of general retailers for the first time and second only to music specialists. At the end of 1998, supermarkets commanded a share of only 15.4%.

The BPI recently revealed shipments of CD albums in the U.K. shot up 5.6% during 2003 to 234 million units. Year-end shipment figures show that total album shipments were up last year 4.9% by volume to 236 million and 2.1% in value to £1.112 billion ($2.05 billion).