back to article Digital music sales beat discs for first time in UK

Digital music revenue has overtaken revenue hauled in from sales of plastic discs for the first time in the UK. British music industry trade group the BPI released figures showing that digital revenue – from downloads, subscriptions and advertising – had made up 55.5 per cent of income in the first three months of this year. …


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  1. Saint Sound

    iTunes vouchers of course

    Great value if you know when to buy them!

    1. Studley

      Re: iTunes vouchers of course

      Less great if you ever plan on owning a non-Apple device.

      I once owned an iPod Touch and foolishly made a bunch of iTunes Store purchases which I now can't listen to on any other MP3-playing device. It's going to take me forever (and, if done legitimately, some repeated expenditure) to reacquire them all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iTunes vouchers of course

        Unless you're in Japan itunes downloads aren't drm'd any more, but yes they were horribly crippled in the early days. You should just be able to re download them from itunes though.

        1. Studley

          Re: iTunes vouchers of course

          Really? Stuff that was DRM'd when it was purchased is now un-DRM'd?

          I'll be checking that out tonight - if it's true, I might've actually found a compelling reason to install iTunes :)

          1. I_am_Chris
            Thumb Up

            Re: iTunes vouchers of course

            Mostly yes. There are some exceptions, but yes all of your purchases should now be available without DRM

            1. Studley

              Definitely wasn't "most"

              I installed iTunes for the first time in several years and redownloaded my entire purchase history - only about 35-40% of it is DRM-free. The rest is still m4p-encoded, which is easy-but-annoying to get around (Apple allows you to burn it to CD a limited number of times, so just burn it to CD and then rip it with a standard MP3 ripper).

              Still worth it to avoid the hassle of re-purchasing, but honestly it's not surprising why piracy is so rife when the hurdles for genuine buyers are so perverse.

      2. Scorchio!!
        Thumb Up

        Re: iTunes vouchers of course

        "Less great if you ever plan on owning a non-Apple device."

        I've successfully avoided Apple completely, and thus don't fully appreciate the problem. AIUI it has to go through iTunes before it can be placed on an Apple device, OK, fine; is it not possible to copy from iTunes or an Apple device onto a PC/non Apple device? If so a free package like MP3 workshop, or an editor like Cool Edit Pro/Audacity will save the file to a new name/location and whatever DRM is in the file is no longer there.

        I found this out because I was experimenting with stuff I stupidly ripped to WMA before I knew of the limitations. No honestly. I have thousands of CDs, which I rip onto my network drive, so that I can network the sound through my Onkyo amp. This protects the original discs and saves me the effort of getting up to change the music.

        Lazy? Yes, but I do weights at least once a day. Such is the life of modern day geekism.

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon


    "Who's ever sent a loved one an MP3 as a gift?"

    You can stuff six albums on a CD and most CD players these days will play MP3. Just don't do it if the intended recipient is an audiophile*.

    *You wouldn't be buying these people music anyway.

    1. This Side Up

      Re: Sir

      "Just don't do it if the intended recipient is an audiophile"

      I think you meant to say "... if the intended recipient has ears"

      Most CD players (and DVD players for that matter) made these days will play MP3 files. That doesn't mean that most CDs out there can play MP3. The number of albums you can stuff onto a CD depends on the length of the albums and the bit rate at which you encode them.

      Anyway, the last CD I bought was also available for download in wave, flac, ogg vorbis, mp3 and probably a few more formats I've forgotten about.

  3. Jeebus

    Downloading filler music and buying some classics, Fiona Apple is well worth paying for, also a Sigur Ros album last week. Stuff to listen to at the gym, not so much.

    I send MP3 gift regularly, usually get handed a list and download them all, because I'm an evil copyright muslim gay terrorist.

  4. Mondo the Magnificent

    But wait 'til Xmas: How do you wrap up an MP3 licence?..

    Two ways:

    Value method:

    1: Go to Tesco

    2: Buy Tesco music voucher

    3: Buy envelope

    4: Scribble recipients name onto said envelope

    5: Stuff voucher into envelope

    6: Seal and deliver

    Upmarket method

    1: Go to music store / supermarket

    2: Buy iTunes music voucher

    3: Buy Christmas card

    4: Scribble message of goodwill in the card and recipients name on provided envelope

    5: Stuff voucher into card

    6: Stuff card into envelope

    7: Seal and deliver..

    Now it is raining out?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Revenues in the music industry look pretty good compared to many other industries in the glut of these harsh financial times.

    Tell me again how piracy is destroying media industries?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Tell me again how piracy is destroying media industries?"

      Ah, well, you see every illegal download represents a lost sale - that's a FACT® and not an insanely stupid assertion pulled out of someone's arse in order to justify controlling everything we see and do online.

      Actually, now I write it down like that....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music on a stick

    Download/rip music for yourself, give a USB memory stick as a present, oops - how did copies get on there? ;)

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Music on a stick

      Love the downvote on this - you filthy pirate! ;-)

      I gave my better half an SD loaded with music, to play in her new Sony Reader, at Christmas, although it was all ripped from CDs I bought for the purpose. Wish I had just nicked it all - she didn't like some of it.

  7. Mark #255

    Also e-books

    About a year ago (pre-Kobo), relatives tried to buy an ebook from WH Smith as a gift for my wife (she had a Sony e-reader).

    At the end of the process (tick the "this is a gift" box, enter recipient's name/address), they had an ebook in *their* account.

    Fscking numpties.

    Now Kobo handle all WHSmith's ebackend, and you can buy gift vouchers. Phew.

    (The Sony, since it struggled hideously if you actually tried using more than a fraction of its storage space, has been replaced by a Kobo Touch).

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Also e-books

      Gift vouchers are very useful. The ability of the Sony Reader to forget that it's been authorised by Adobe to read books, less so.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also e-books

      I have never quite grasped the idea of any gift vouchers.

      They are basically the equivalent of giving cash/cheques (ie: some value representation), but with a vastly limited use. Being only able to use them in a certain store or even on a certain type of purchase (eg: a book).

      PS: I also has a Kobo Touch and think it is an excellent device, particularly not being tied to one vender and having the microSD card option for loading pdf's and other document/book formats directly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Also e-books

        Same here.

        Once I was given a Gift Voucher. When I tried to spend it the cashier wouldn't give me change. So I ended up buying things I didn't want or give free money to the shop. Gift Vouchers are a con. Anyone who dare's send one my way gets taken of my xmas list.

  8. MrWibble

    Maybe I'm being thick

    But that graph clearly shows "Physical" being far in excess of other income sources.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Maybe I'm being thick

      Yes, you are.

      The article refers to Q1 sales. The graph refers to annual sales up to 2011.

      Although not mentioned, it's pretty safe to assume the story refers to Q1 2012 sales.

    2. Studley

      Re: Maybe I'm being thick

      The graph shows up to the end of 2011. The figures quoted are for the first three months of 2012.

      But yeah, expect Christmas to put a massive kink back in physical's favour.

    3. Steve Foster

      Re: Maybe I'm being thick

      The chart shows annual sales. The first quarter figures for 2012 (which are not in the chart) are where virtual sales have outstripped physical sales for the first time (note the nod to "it's all digital" post).

  9. Pristine Audio


    "Digital music sales beat discs for first time in UK" - and here's me thinking all those CDs we sell alongside our downloads and online subs were digital too!

    1. This Side Up

      Re: Digital?

      This is the sort of sloppy journalism we expect from the BBC; El Reg writers should know better.

  10. Purlieu

    Advertising ?

    "digital revenue – from downloads, subscriptions and advertising" .... since when was advertising included in sales figures for, oh, music ??

  11. Richard Boyce
    Thumb Down


    CDs "come with their own physical backup". Think about that.

    Since when is your only copy its own backup, even if it is on a physical medium? CDs may be less prone to needing a backup, but that's a different matter.

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