British Artists Dominate Album Sales as Digital Music Surges Forward in 2012

·         UK’s three best-selling albums of 2012 by British artists - Emeli Sandé, Adele and Ed Sheeran

·         A fifth successive year of record British singles sales, up 6.0% to 188.6m.

·         UK music fans streamed more than 3.7 billion tracks in 2012.

·         Digital album sales volumes grow 14.8%.


A fifth successive record year for singles and strong performances from digital albums and streaming services demonstrated further consumer confidence in digital music formats in 2012, new Official Charts Company figures released today by the BPI confirmed.

British music fans streamed audio tracks more than 3.7 billion times during 2012, Official Charts Company figures showed for the first time, with Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye ft Kimbra, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen and Titanium by David Guetta ft Sia the three most-streamed tracks of the year.   This is equivalent to 140 music streams for every household in the UK.

Digital album sales rose 14.8% to 30.5m, although sales of albums on CD declined 19.5% year-on-year to 69.4m in total.  Combined volume sales of digital and physical albums fell overall by 11.2% to 100.5m in 2012.

Digital album download volumes continued to show strong growth, with 16 albums selling more than 100,000 digital copies in 2012.  Despite the growth in digital formats, the CD remained popular with album buyers in 2012, accounting 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.

It was another year of success for the UK singles market, with single track sales volumes continuing to break records for the fifth year in succession.  Total singles sales increased 6.0% to 188.6m in 2012, with the overwhelming majority (99.6%) accounted for by digital tracks and bundles. All the top 20 best-selling singles of 2012 sold more than 500,000 copies each.

The final week of 2012 proved to be the year’s record week for digital sales as consumers redeemed their Christmas music vouchers and downloaded more than 1.3m albums and 5.6m singles.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said, “2012 was an encouraging year for UK artists and for music’s digital future.  Digital albums grew strongly and singles sales hit a new record.  Music fans are now streaming billions of songs from new services enabled by record labels.

“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 UK labels means we have excellent potential for domestic growth and to increase our share of the global music market.  We hope Government will recognise the potential of digital music to contribute to economic recovery and provide more active support in 2013.”

Tony Wadsworth, BPI Chairman, added, “British artists continue to resonate strongly with music fans in their home territory, with albums by Emeli Sandé, Adele and Ed Sheeran topping the end-of-year charts.

“The domestic success of albums from Mumford & Sons and One Direction has been replicated abroad – both British acts have achieved massive success in the US.”

British acts enjoyed a hugely successful year in the British albums market, accounting for seven of the top ten selling artist albums of 2012 and the entire top three.  Emeli Sandé’s debut album Our Version Of Events was the biggest seller of 2012, ending the year with 1.4m copies sold.  Adele’s all-conquering 21 ended 2012 in second place, with + by Ed Sheeran finishing at No.3.

There were strong 2012 artist album chart placings for One Direction’s Up All Night (No.5), Mumford & Son’s Babel (No.6), Olly Murs’ Right Place Right Time (No.7) and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto.

X Factor 2012 winner James Arthur was the highest placed Brit in the Official Singles Chart 2012 – his hit single Impossible ended the year as the fifth biggest-selling single.   The only other British artist in the 2012 Singles top ten was Jessie J with Domino at No.8.



IMPORTANT:  All figures quoted in this news release are sourced from The Official Charts Company.   We would be extremely grateful if you could correctly reference The Official Charts Company when including the figures or tables in any report.

About BPI

The BPI is the representative voice of the UK recorded music business. The BPI is a trade organisation funded by its members - which include hundreds of independent music companies and the UK’s three major record labels. The BPI’s members account for approximately 90% of all recorded music sold in the UK, and globally the UK's recorded music market is the fourth biggest.

The BPI also organises the annual BRIT Awards show as well as the Classic BRIT Awards show. The organising company BRIT Awards Limited, is a fully owned subsidiary of the BPI. Substantial proceeds from both shows go to the BRIT Trust, the charitable arm of the BPI that has donated almost £15m to charitable causes nationwide, since its foundation in 1989.

For further information, please contact Adam Liversage on 0780 117 9032 or

About the Official Charts Company

The Official Charts Company (OCC) is a joint venture between record labels' body the BPI and ERA, the Entertainment Retailers Association. The OCC is responsible for the commissioning, marketing, distribution and management of the UK's industry standard music and video charts and is endorsed by the BVA (British Video Association).

The Official Charts Company compiles its charts from sales information gathered across all key distribution (or entertainment) channels including all major high street retail chains, independent stores, supermarkets, mail order internet retailers and digital music service providers. This market research sample equates to 99% of the total UK Singles market; 98% of the total UK Albums market and 90% of the total UK DVD market.

For further information, please contact Lauren Kreisler on 07789 886 263 at

Download full press release including charts and data here.

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