British recorded music industry celebrates a Decade Of Digital

The Official Top 100 Biggest Selling Digital Tracks to be revealed as the British recorded music industry celebrates 10 years of legal downloads.

The Official Top 100 Biggest Selling Digital Tracks to be revealed as the British recorded music industry celebrates 10 years of legal downloads.

The recorded music industry is coming together to celebrate 10 years of digital music in 2014, kicking off at Easter with the launch of a Now That’s What I Call Music! tie-in compilation and a nine-hour Radio 1 show.

Decade Of Digital is the banner under which all activities over the coming months will be gathered, supported by the Official Charts Company, the BPI and ERA – and marking 10 years since the first legitimate digital music services and the Official Download Chart launched in the UK, in 2004.

The celebration will begin on Easter Monday with an unveiling of the All-time Official Download Chart Top 100, which will be counted down by BBC Radio 1 during a seven-hour marathon broadcast which will run from midday through to 7pm. The show will be hosted by a range of presenters including Fearne Cotton, Scott Mills and Jameela Jamil.

On the same day, Now! is releasing a tie-in compilation, featuring 62 of the Official biggest selling downloads of the past 10 years, including tracks by Robin Thicke, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Jessie J, Psy, Gotye, One Direction, Rihanna, Coldplay and Emeli Sande.

Two weeks later, MTV will broadcast its own celebration of the Decade Of Digital on May Day Bank Holiday weekend (May 3-5) – the channel will broadcast shows around the All-time Official Download Top 100, All-time Official Boys Downloads, All-time Official Girls Downloads, All-time Official Urban Downloads, All-time Official Dance Downloads and All-time Official Rock Downloads.

Further activity will be unveiled as the year rolls on, including publication of a range of exciting never-been-seen-before official themed charts and lists on, the fast-growing 1.9m visitor consumer website operated by the Official Charts Company.

The legitimate digital music market took off 10 years ago this year, with the launch of a number of a download stores including iTunes Europe, 7 Digital Music and MyCokeMusic (a service launched as part of Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the Official Singles Chart). The Official Download Chart was subsequently introduced soon after, in September 2004.

In the first week of 2004, a total of just 13,934 single track downloads were registered – a number which has exploded to 3.49m downloads a week on average throughout 2013. Over the decade, more than 1.17 billion single track downloads have been bought in the UK, on top of 153.0 million album downloads, collectively a total of more than 2.7 billion music tracks – this equates to an average of 108 tracks for every UK household, or 513 downloads per minute for the whole of the 10 years.

The explosion in demand have combined to make 2012 and 2013 the two biggest years for singles sales in the history of the UK market (sales of 188.6m and 182.2m) respectively, both more than double the pre-digital highs of 88.8 million and 89.1 million in 1978 and 1979.

Performance at the top of the Official Singles Chart is also at its highest level – in 2004, it had taken 50 years for UK fans to push almost 80 singles to million-seller status, but a decade later the number of million-sellers has almost doubled to more than 150.  In the UK, the singles market is now more than 99% digital.

Today, the digital revolution has extended to streaming too. 2013 saw a doubling of streams in the UK, from 3.49 billion in 2012 to 7.37 billion in 2013. This growth has continued into 2014 too – January 2012 saw the total streams top 100 million streams across audio streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and more, while May 2013 saw the first 150m streams week and 200m streams in a week were registered for the first time in January 2014.

Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot says, “The past 10 years has seen digital consumption revolutionise the music industry, transforming the singles market and allowing fans instant access to their favourite tunes at highly competitive prices. And the digital revolution continues apace – just as downloading changed the way fans access music 10 years ago, so streaming will continue this evolution over the coming decade.”

Kim Bayley, Director General of the Entertainment Retailers Association, says, "A new breed of retailers were the first to see the huge potential of digital to transform the music buying experience. Since then, they have invested thousands, if not millions, of pounds to create new music services. Digital music was a revolution music fans were waiting for, and now they have the best of both worlds, the instant accessibility and range of digital operating alongside probably the most comprehensive physical store infrastructure anywhere in the world. "

Gennaro Castaldo of the BPI – the trade body that represents UK record labels – adds, “The impact of digital can’t be overstated.  Not only has it increased the ease of access that fans have to all new releases, enabling them to discover and enjoy songs when and how they want, but it’s also opened up a universe of previously released material that might not always be readily available on physical formats. So Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody, for instance, now has a perennial chance of topping the Christmas chart, while a classic song that features on a TV Ad or in film soundtrack can also come back to life and be enjoyed by a new audience of millions.”