U.K. 2012 Sales Report: Strong Growth in Digital Fails To Prevent 11.2% Sales Slide
U.K. 2012 Sales Report: Strong Growth in Digital Fails To Prevent 11.2% Sales Slide

Sustained growth in digital music sales failed to offset the year-on-year decline in U.K. album sales in 2012, according to new figures released today by labels trade body the BPI.

In 2012, combined digital and physical album sales fell 11.2% to 100.5 million units, down from 113.2 million in 2011. CD sales fell 19.5 percent year-on-year to 69.4 million units, down from 86.2 million the year previous.

2012 Year In Music

The continued growth of digital sales does, however, offer welcome signs of recovery. According to the BPI (in association with the Official Charts Company), digital album sales rose 14.8% to 30.5 million units in 2012, up from 26.6 million the previous year. 16 albums sold more than 100,000 digital copies in 2012.

The U.K. singles market also grew for a fifth successive year with 188.6 million singles sold in the previous twelve months - a 6.0% rise on 2011's 177.9 million units sales figure. Streaming services additionally experienced impressive take-up, with British consumers streaming more than 3.7 billion tracks in 2012 - equivalent to 140 music streams for every household in the U.K., according to the BPI/Official Charts Company.

"Somebody That I Used To Know" (Island/Universal) by Gotye ft Kimbra, "Call Me Maybe" (Polydor/Universal) by Carly Rae Jepsen and "Titanium" (Parlophone/EMI) by David Guetta ft Sia were the three most-streamed tracks of the year, respectively.

Despite the growth in digital formats, CD sales still accounted for more than two-thirds (69.1%) of total sales, compared to a 30.4% share for digital albums and 0.4% for vinyl LPs. Downloads made up 99.6 percent of all singles sales.

In line with prevailing annual trends, the final week of 2012 proved to be the year's record week for digital sales with more than 1.3 million albums and 5.6 million singles downloaded.

The U.K.'s best-selling album in 2012 was Emeli Sandé's debut studio set "Our Version Of Events," (Virgin/EMI) which sold 1.4 million copies. Adele's "21" (XL Recordings) was the year's second highest-seller, with Ed Sheeran's debut album "+" (Atlantic/Warner) at No. 3. In total, British artists accounted for seven of the top ten selling artist albums of 2012 with One Direction's "Up All Night" (Syco/Sony), Mumford &Son's "Babel" (Gentleman of the Road/Island/Universal), Olly Murs' "Right Place Right Time" (Epic/Sony) and "Coldplay's Mylo Xylo" (Parlophone/EMI) among the top ten best-selling artist albums. The top-selling U.K. single of 2012 was "Somebody That I Used To Know" (Island/Universal) by Gotye ft Kimbra.

Commenting on the annual figures, Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive, said in a statement: "2012 was an encouraging year for U.K. artists and for music's digital future."

Taylor continued: "The Jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympics provided a great showcase for British music internationally, but market conditions at home remained difficult and pressure on the 'leisure wallet' impacted music sales on the high street.

"However, the quality of our music and digital innovation by U.K. labels means we have excellent potential for domestic growth and to increase our share of the global music market," he went on to say.


(Title, Artist, Label, Company)

1. Our Version Of Events, Emeli Sandé Virgin, EMI Music

2. 21, Adele, XL Recordings, XL Beggars

3. +, Ed Sheeran, Atlantic, Warner Music

4. Born To Die, Lana Del Rey, Polydor, Universal Music

5. Up All Night, One Direction Syco Music, Sony Music

6. Babel, Mumford & Sons, Gentlemen Of The Road/Island, Universal Music

7. Right Place Right Time, Olly Murs, Epic, Sony Music

8. Christmas, Michael Bublé, Reprise, Warner Music

9. Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay, Parlophone, EMI Music

10. Unapologetic, Rihanna, Mercury, Universal Music

(c) Official Charts Company


(Title, Artist, Label, Company)

1. "Somebody That I Used To Know," Gotye ft. Kimbra, Island, Universal Music

2. "Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepsen, Polydor, Universal Music

3. "We Are Young," Fun. ft. Janelle Monae, Atlantic/Fueled by Ramen, Warner Music

4. "Titanium," David Guetta ft. Sia, Parlophone, EMI Music

5. "Impossible," James Arthur, Syco Music, Sony Music

6. "Gangnam Style," Psy, Island, Universal Music

7. "Starships," Nicki Minaj, Cash Money/Island, Universal Music

8. "Domino," Jessie J Island/Lava, Universal Music

9. "Payphone," Maroon 5 ft Wiz Khalifa, Polydor, Universal Music

10. "Wild Ones.' Flo Rida ft Sia, Atlantic, Warner Music

(c) Official Charts Company