back to article Digital singles all the rage in Europe

Sales of digital singles across Europe rose 13 per cent in the first half of 2011 – although in many cases it is simply younger local markets playing catch-up. Almost 170 million were sold in all, Nielsen has reported. In Germany, singles sales were up 20 per cent, but the most mature market – the UK – still accounts for …


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  1. jeremyjh

    Need a credit card?

    Nah, my Visa Debit card works perfectly with iTunes and Amazon MP3.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Need a credit card?

      You're over 18 though. Few teenagers have a debit card. You can get one if you're under 18, but it needs be set up by an adult and the account requires a parental guardian.

      Most teens can't just decide on a whim to blow their pocket money or dinner money on some digital music, like they could with cash on physical singles at Woolies or HMV. So the point stands.

      1. Tom Wood

        No it doesn't

        Natwest, for instance, offer an account for 11-18 year olds which comes with a debit card. (They were the first bank I looked at online. I'm sure the others are similar).

        I had a debit card when I was 16 (10 years ago) and a savings account with a cash machine card before that - both of which I set up without needing any kind of parental involvement.

        1. Bassey

          Re: No it doesn't

          You can also use iTunes cards - available all over the place (WH Smiths, HMV etc). It does seem a strange point Reg. I'm very far from being a "Yoof" but the ones I know get all their music through iTunes (shudder) and none of them have credit cards.

  2. fridaynightsmoke

    Whaddaya mean "sales"?

    The problem as I see it is that (for example) a CD single costs £2.99, whereas a digital single costs £0.99. If the same number of singles are sold as before, but digitally instead of on CD, then 'sales' are have dropped to 1/3 of their previous level. BUT, what percentage of the sale makes its way to the label and artists as profit? The £2.99 CD on sale in the shop has the retailer's markup, transport costs, production costs, inventory costs etc etc, while the £0.99 mp3 costs everyone a lot less to provide. There's still the retailer's markup, but the rest is entirely delicious record label profit.

    Personally I'd rather sell something that costs me 10p for £1 than something that costs me £9.80 for £10, even though it would be 'sales' of 10x the amount. Probably the fact that the labels are talking purely about 'sales' says a lot...

  3. Ian K

    "the digital growth is stalling"?

    Far from convinced the data in the article back that up. The second (bar) chart makes it look like there's a fall off, but if you check the first chart the growth seems fairly close to linear.

    Then you check what the vertical axis of the bar chart is actually measuring, and find it's the "annual percentage growth".

    If you have nice steady actual growth, the percentage per year *will* fall off over time, as the regular annual increment becomes a smaller fraction of the growing total. That's hardly the same thing as "stalling", though.

  4. spencer

    just let it die

    There's more and new exciting ways to spunk all your cash than ever, it's logical that at least one of the entertainment sectors would feel the pinch.

    Music as a medium these days is easy to copy, create and share. You can find tracks in an instant and listen to it free on youtube without even needing to download it. It's not even illegal.

    People will pay for convenience, and so things like spotify are pretty nifty but by and large the music industry (IMO) in general can't be arsed to change with the times and as such should just be left to die, preferably quietly. Good music will still be made whether there's a money making industry behind it or not.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: just let it die

      It's hard to pirate your way into Glastonbury.

      1. spencer


        It's hard to legally download your way into Glastonbury as well.

        What's your point?

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: eh?

          Punters have a lot of choices when it comes to spending money on entertainment. I think the spending is over £90 per household per month now.

          It's amazing anyone pays for music when pinching it is consequence-free. But most people do.

          1. Mark 65


            Mostly likely because they are purchasing music from iTunes using either their smartphone (most likely) or PC with said software installed. Getting it free normally involves obtaining suitable software (and ensuring it's not stuffed full of pox), setting up pass-through on a router etc. Which is easier for a generation that generally just cannot be arsed?

  5. MarkieMark1


    so £320 per year from digital music

    £850 from cds

    £5 from singles

    £40 from dvds

    so at most £1250 per year, how does that lady gaga afford all the hats?

    graph labels, very good invention

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "It's only fair to the artists that people try harder than ever to fill that gap."?

    Bull. Digital singles are less expensive than CDs largely because they are far cheaper to produce and distribute. These should be savings for the labels as well, so focussing only on gross sales is highly misleading. On top of that CDs bundle tracks together, whereas digital singles allow you buy only what you want. Of course people will pay less for a single track than a CD containing several.

    Consumers are buying exactly what they want. If in previous eras they were overpriced and bundled with crap people wouldn't buy separately, that doesn't mean we should start buying the rubbish to compensate.

    As for the "think of the artists" cry, look at the way the industry works. Even back in the CD era, the label took most CD sales. IIRC, there was something of a controversy in the early 90s because the artists saw virtually nothing from singles and had to depend on album sales...

  7. Danny 5

    by far

    the vast majority of the music i own is from single MP3's, i hardly ever buy full albums, i'm a "cherry picker".

  8. Alan Mackenzie


    For crying out loud! Please don't say "digital" when you mean "online". CDs are digital too, remember.

    For an analog recorded medium, you have to go back to records or cassette tapes. These media, for some reason, don't appear in your graphs.

  9. Neily-boy

    Am I missing something?

    Why don't record labels sell directly to the public via their own websites?

    Surely the costs would be minimised almost as far as they could possibly go, thereby allowing further reductions to the sell price and maximisation of sales?

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