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CD habit buoys up UK recorded music

Not going bust just yet, then

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The hard-to-kill CD helped revenue from the sales of recorded music in the UK last year stay much where it was in 2008, according to figures released by the BPI today.

Interest in music was undoubtedly boosted by the death of Michael Jackson and the final digital release of The Beatles' catalogue remastered.

Overall trade revenue was down up 1.4 per cent down year on year to £928.8m, with digital music taking £188.9m of that, up 48 per cent over 2008. The figures include ringtones and music DVDs, but not music licensed to games such as Guitar Hero, or movie and advertising 'sync' deals, or revenue from cover mounts.

CD albums sales fell 6.7 per to £699.2m - which is quite amazing considering lower online MP3 prices, the removal of DRM, the availability of free streaming services like Spotify, and (perhaps most of all) the disappearance of key high street CD retail outlets. Where do people get their CDs?

This didn't escape the BPI's notice. "The CD continues to show greater resilience than many predicted – it is an excellent digital product," said chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement.

Music formats by revenue, 1973-2008 [part]click to enlarge

Online revenues are a very mixed bag - and don't seem to reflect a service's popularity or hype. The following graphic to the right illustrates this - but bear in mind these are US not UK numbers, from 2008 not 2009.

Digital track downloads brought in £83.7m and full album downloads £67.3m. But some of the biggest names in online music returned such small amounts, they may be considered a rounding error. Between them, Google-owned YouTube - which is really the world's primary jukebox - Spotify, Last.fm and We7 in total contributed just £8.2m to the UK recordings business.

That barely buys you a drowning dog.

And in mobile - which a couple of years ago was touted as The Saviour by the music business - revenue actually fell by 13.3 per cent to £12.7m.

The last time retail revenue from UK music topped £1bn was in 2006: while the trend is still down, it's no longer in free fall. The BPI presents this and more data in its annual yearbook due next month. ®

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