How is this even possible? According to stats just released by the British label group BPI, CDs still make up more than three-quarters of the UK album market. That is, 76.1 percent of all album sales for 2011, with digital albums comprising a more modest 23.5 percent. We’re awaiting year-2011 breakdowns for the US.
This is part of a familiar story: digital formats are growing, but not nearly enough to make up the physical deficit. And the inability to shift away from physical formats is dragging the broader British picture. For the year, broader album sales landed at 113.2 million, down 5.6 percent across both physical and digital formats. But CDs tanked 12.6 percent, a huge drag on a 23.5 percent gain on digital albums.
Of course, non-album formats like subscriptions and a-la-carte downloads are also rising, but not at an industry-sustaining pace. The BPI continued to point the finger at piracy, and inaction from the British government. “While other countries take positive steps to protect their creative sector, our government is taking too long to act on piracy, while weakening copyright to the benefit of US tech giants,” BPI chief Geoff Taylor stated. “Unless decisive action is taken in 2012, investment in music could fall again – a creative crunch that will destroy jobs and mean the next Adele may not get her chance to shine on the world stage.”
Vinyl remained a small but promising bright spot, thanks to a gain of 44 percent to 337,000 units on the year. But that’s just 0.3 percent of the overall album sales total.