U.K. Music Industry Revenue Falls by $309 Million

Digital revenue continues to grow as CD sales fall and digital piracy hits U.K. music industry takings.

LONDON -- Plummeting CD sales, the ongoing toll of digital piracy and a lack of big name acts on tour fuelled a £189 million ($309 million) drop in U.K. music revenues last year, according to The Guardian.

The music industry saw revenues decline 4.8 percent to £3.8 billion ($6.21 billion) in 2010 as the post-party hangover kicked in following a bumper 2009 driven by Susan Boyle's record-breaking debut and big-selling albums from Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson.

As consumers tightened their purse strings amid fears over the state of the economy, nervous band managers decided against launching tours for their big name acts in case they failed to fill venues.

After a decade of growth, live music revenues declined 6.8 percent to £1.48 billion ($2.42 billion) last year.

"A number of stadium- and arena-filling bands were not on tour and many of those that did tour opted to play smaller venues to limit their risk (Kings of Leon and Rod Stewart)," said the U.K.'s music royalties body, PRS for Music, in its Adding Up The UK Music Industry report for 2010.

Sales of CDs fell by 7.9 percent to £1.24 billion ($2.03 billion) as music piracy and the ongoing cultural shift to listening to music via digital services like Spotify continue to take their toll.

Despite increased growth in revenue from digital services in the U.K., up almost 20 percent year-on-year to £316.5 million ($517.1 million), the report said the promise of legal streaming and download services appears to have been overstated.

"While steep falls in physical revenues continued apace in 2010, there were clear signs that growth in digital revenues slowed across the main international recorded music industry markets," said the report, with global digital revenue growth halving year-on-year to just 5.3 percent.

"Put more bluntly, global digital revenues are not going to be the '$30 billion baby' people talked about five years ago. Indeed they may stabilize at around $5 billion."

Trade bodies representing the U.K. music industry – as well as counterparts in the film and TV sectors – were disappointed after the government announced on Wednesday that it has scrapped plans to introduce legislation to force internet companies to block websites accused of illegal file-sharing.