UK Artists Enjoy Banner Year For Album Sales In 2006
A slew of strong selling debuts, the excitement surrounding new digital formats and the sustained success of established home-grown talent helped British music to its best year in nearly a decade in 2006.
Analysis of the Top 100 of the Official UK Albums Chart by the BPI shows that UK artists achieved a 61.9 percent share of sales, the best since 1997.
The biggest-selling album of 2006 was Snow Patrol's Eyes Open, which sold more than 1.5m copies. Another four UK acts sold over 1m copies of their albums - Take That, Arctic Monkeys, Kooks and Razorlight - and seven of the Top 10 albums of the year were by British acts.
This combination of both new and established artists helped UK acts claim their largest share of album best-sellers since 1997, when the Spice Girls, The Verve, Oasis and The Prodigy dominated the charts.
BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson said, "Two years ago we predicted we were entering a new golden age for British music. These numbers confirm that British music is going through an outstandingly creative period which is capturing the imagination of music buyers."
- Diversity in home-grown talent leads to UK acts dominating the charts
The health of the British music scene is clear from the high number of UK-signed acts and debut albums by British artists in the 2006 Top 100. The top three best-selling albums of the year, Snow Patrol, Take That and Scissor Sisters, are all signed to UK label Polydor.
And, there were 14 UK debuts in the Top 100 of 2006, compared with just eight in 2005. Reflecting the diversity of new British talent, these debuts ranged from singer-songwriters such as Paolo Nutini and James Morrison to cutting edge rock of Arctic Monkeys and The Fratellis, and the classy soul of Corinne Bailey Rae.
Said Jamieson, "The success enjoyed by new artists is testament both to the creativity of a new generation, but also to the commitment of recording companies to invest in new talent."
Arctic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not holds the record for the fastest selling debut album of all time, with 363,812 sales in the first seven days of its release. It went on to be the best selling debut of the year.
The Kooks' extensive tour schedule and hit singles “Naïve” and “She Moves In Her Own Way” helped their album Inside In/Inside Out into second place on the debut chart.
- Downloads drive singles sales as the digital albums market is born
The singles market, already re-invigorated by the success of legal downloads, recorded further growth in 2006. Digital accounted for 79 percent of singles sales and the biggest single of the year, Gnarls Barkley's “Crazy,” sold in excess of 400,000 downloads.
Said Jamieson, "The rebirth of the singles market, driven by downloads, shows the ability of music to reinvent itself through new technology. Just a couple of years ago, some commentators predicted the death of the single. We are now looking at a market which has doubled in three years, thanks to downloads."
And, the birth of the digital albums market saw 2.2m units sold between April and December 2006; digital sales now comprise 1.4 percent of the overall album market.
- Consumer demand for new and established UK acts drives album volume
Despite tough, high street retail trading conditions, a slew of strong-selling British debuts, and the sustained success of established home-grown talent, saw the overall recorded music market defy predictions of a substantial fall. Although 2006 saw overall album sales decrease by 2.5 percent to 155.1m units, the share of Top 100 album sales taken by UK artists increased to nearly 62 percent.
The singles market continued its digital-fuelled revival with sales up 39.7 percent in 2006, owing to continued growth in sales of downloads, which were up by 98.9 percent. With 66.9m singles sold in 2006, this is the highest total since 1999, while music DVD sales also grew by 9.6 percent to 7.2m.
BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson said, "Conditions on the high street are tough, but the key to the future of the music industry is the music itself. What the recording industry must continue to do is continue to discover, develop and promote music that consumers want to buy and adapt to the changing nature of retail."
"The arrival of digital retail has restored the singles market to its ‘90s high in just two years. That British signed and developed acts are also taking a growing slice of an albums market is something to celebrate, clearly the record industry is adapting successfully to change."
Coupled with this, UK artists are seeing their fortunes improve internationally with two UK-signed acts featuring in the American year end Top 10 singles chart: James Blunt's “You're Beautiful” at number four and Natasha Bedingfield's “Unwritten” was at number six.
Blunt's US single success was mirrored in the album charts also, where he joined fellow new UK acts KT Tunstall and Corinne Bailey Rae with debut platinum album success.
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