UK pirates swiped 1.2 billion tunes in 2010

The BPI has published its annual report into digital music downloads and as usual it paints a bleak picture for the UK's impoverished billionare pop stars and music industry barons.

Digital Music Nation 2010 (PDF) makes merry with the numbers suggesting that 1.2 billion tracks were stolen in 2010 costing the music industry £984 million.

What the figures fail to point out is how many of those downloads would have been converted to actual sales had the files not been easily available through illegal means. We suspect it would be substantially less.

"Illegal downloading continues to rise in the UK," said Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive.
"It is a parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music, and is holding back investment in the fledgling digital entertainment sector."

But it's not all doom and gloom for music industry execs and their puppet products. UK digital single sales are up by 10 million to 160 million this year and albums sales have risen to 21 million compared to just over 16 million in 2009.

2010 saw the industry's first ever million-selling digital single in the form of Black Eyed Peas' I've Gotta Feeling and close to 20 albums topped sales of 100,000.

Digital downloads now account for 24.5 per cent of all music sold in the UK.