U.K. Music Sales Decline for Seventh Successive Year, Despite Downloads (Report)

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In early October, Adele said she was canceling all appearances through 2011 to undergo laser microsurgery to repair a hemorrhaged vocal cord.

Combined digital and physical album sales fall by 5.6%.

LONDON - Despite the best efforts of Adele and Coldplay, the increasing popularity of digital downloads and even a modest resurgence in vinyl, music sales in the U.K. declined for a seventh successive year in 2011, according to the Guardian.

According to the latest figures from the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), combined sales of digital and physical albums fell overall by 5.6 percent to 113.2 million last year. At the industry peak in 2004, 163.4 million albums were sold.

Although digital album sales rose 26.6 percent to 26.6 million, the growth failed to offset the sharp drop in sales of albums on compact disc, which fell by 12.6 percent year on year to 86.2 million. A further 389,000 albums were sold on vinyl and other formats.

The statistics cap yet another turbulent 12 months for the British music industry, which is struggling to cope with losing hundreds of millions of pounds each year to illegal downloads. In November, the debt-ridden record giant EMI – home to the Beatles, Coldplay and Tinie Tempah – was broken up and sold to two of its former rivals, Universal Music and Sony, for £2.5 billion ($4.1 billion).

Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the BPI, said reports of the CD's demise had been greatly exaggerated.

"British music fans understand that the album remains the richest way to connect with an artist's work," he said. "Digital developments grab the headlines, but the CD remains hugely popular with consumers, accounting for three-quarters of album sales.

"Physical ownership is important to many fans and the CD will be a key element of the market for years to come."