UK Recorded Music Sales Revenue Stabilise In 2009

UK music industry association the BPI today published recorded music sales figures for 2009, slightly snubbing iTunes in the process.

How did the BPI act to snub iTunes? By admitting that digital income now accounts for a fifth of total UK recorded music revenues – up 47.8 per cent, but failing to name iTunes, or any other strictly a la carte music download service. The organisation did make space to name some of the free ads-supported streaming services.

Here’s the news all the same:

A strong fourth quarter and increased digital income streams offset the reduced sales of physical formats as the UK recorded music market reported a modest 1.4% annual increase in total trade income for 2009 of £928.8m, BPI’s annual survey of industry income revealed today.

Digital income now represents a fifth (20.3%) of overall recorded music revenues, taking into account earnings from online downloads alongside mobile, subscriptions and ad-supported services.  2009’s digital revenues total of £188.9m is 47.8% up on the £127.8m earned in 2008.

In the online sector alone, total income from downloads of digital tracks (£83.7m), albums (£67.3m) and video sales (£3m) increased by 51.7% to £154m overall in 2009.

Trade income from physical formats declined 6.1% during 2009, with total revenues down from £787.8m to £739.9m continuing the downward trend for the sixth year in succession.  Despite strong performances by key releases from Susan Boyle, Lady Gaga, Paolo Nutini, Michael Bublé, Robbie Williams, and The Beatles Remastered albums, in 2009 the physical albums market dropped 6.7% in value to £699.2m.

Among physical formats, only music DVD provided some cheer with more than 570,000 sales of Take That’s ‘The Circus – Live’ in the final month of 2009 underpinning strong growth of 16.1% to £33.1m.  Revenue from physical singles was down 25.5% to £7.6m.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive said:  “It’s encouraging to see industry revenues stabilise and even show modest growth in 2009.  This is testament to continuing investment by UK labels in talented artists despite challenging economic conditions, and the innovation labels have shown in licensing new digital services.

“But let’s put it in broader perspective:  2009’s modest result follows a five-year drop in annual income, and total industry income has not exceeded £1bn since 2006.  The CD continues to show greater resilience than many predicted – it is an excellent digital product.  The pace of growth of new digital services is encouraging, but the size of the market continues to be constrained by competition from illegal downloads.”

The headline-grabbing ad-supported services, such as Spotify, we7, and YouTube, grew their contribution to industry income by 247% to £8.2m.  Despite this being the largest increase of any sector of the market, these revenues still represent less than 1% of the annual total.

Income from subscriptions also recorded healthy growth of 37.2% in 2009 to reach £11.8m.  With revenues derived from monthly fees to download or stream music, this result was driven by services including eMusic, Comes With Music, Napster, BT Vision as well as income from Spotify Premium – an ad-free version of the popular streaming service.

Mobile revenues fell by 13.3% to £12.7m over the course of the year with only income from single track sales increasing by 6.8% to £8.1m.

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