British digital market 'revitalized'


LONDON -- The British digital market registered a banner sales week last week, shifting 1.7 million downloads.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the BPI, its retail counterpart ERA, and their jointly owned charts compiler the Official U.K. Charts Company, herald the development as a sign of a "revitalized market."

"Just three years ago, skeptics forecast the death of the single, but instead singles have gone from strength to strength," BPI CEO Geoff Taylor said. "New digital music services have combined with existing music stores to give music fans unprecedented choice as to how they discover, sample and buy new music."

His comments are echoed by Martin Talbot, managing director of the OCC. "After growing steadily for five years, the digital market now appears truly maturing, with singles reaping the most significant benefit," Talbot said.

Moreover, the download push, executives explain, coincided with a strong week for physical retail sales.

"This week's chart is a reminder to all of us that we shouldn't write off physical formats just yet," said ERA chairman Paul Quirk, who is also co-owner of independent store Quirks Records in Ormskirk, Lancashire. "After all, around 90% of recorded music sales is still on physical formats."

The sales spike was driven by a slew of new hit tracks from the likes of Leona Lewis, Take That and McFly. Lewis, a former X-Factor winner, opened at No. 1 on the chart selling more than 218,000 copies -– a 2007 best -- of her single "Bleeding Love" (Syco).

Take That's "Rule the World" (Polydor) soared from No. 46 to No. 2 on sales of more than 97,800, good enough for a No. 1 in a typical week.

With their new single "The Heart Never Lies" (Island), pop-rock outfit McFly started at No. 3 on the chart, which integrates digital and physical sales data. According to the OCC, McFly's CD sales accounted for 54% of "Heart" sales, and vinyl generated 12% of its sales.