U.K. consumers still buying the most CDs


LONDON -- Music fans in the U.K. have topped the world CD-buying charts for the fourth year in a row, despite the inroads being made by downloading songs from the Internet.

Figures produced by the IFPI for international CD sales point to the U.K. population buying an average of 2.7 discs per head, beating the U.S. and Norway, who were joint second with recorded sales of 2.1 discs per head.

The remainder of the top 10 CD-buying countries were Ireland and Australia (1.9), Denmark (1.8), Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland (1.7) with Japan, New Zealand and Canada all at 1.5 discs per head.

British trade body the Entertainment Retailers Assn. welcomed the robust figures, describing the U.K. as the most resilient music market of recent years. The British CD market exceeded 150 million units for the fourth year running in 2006 while digital downloads amount to around 12% of sales.

"The rise of downloading in the singles market may have captured the headlines over the past couple of years, but when it comes to albums, U.K. music fans still overwhelmingly prefer the convenience and flexibility of physical formats," ERA director general Kim Bayley said in a statement. "Digital still accounts for less than one twelfth of the U.K. music market."

While many of our members are investing in digital operations, we also believe that physical stores will continue to be an important part of the music fan's experience," she added. "A strong and diverse retail infrastructure has been key to the health of the U.K. music market. It means that music is more accessible in the U.K. than in virtually any other country in the world."