UK's music industry group the BPI is celebrating the sale of the billionth digital single download, amid what is described as a flourishing market.
According to data from the Official Charts Company, the one billion landmark was reached on late Monday evening.
The figures represent individual tracks sold, not digital albums or streamed music – with the vast majority of sales being made through the UK's biggest music retailer, Apple's iTunes store.
“The digital music revolution has made it easy to buy any song you like, instantly, for half the price of a coffee,” said Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive.
The top 10 tracks download to date are (you may want to look away now if you actually like music):
- Someone Like You – Adele
- Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 Ft Christina Aguilera
- Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye Ft Kimbra
- I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
- We Found Love – Rihanna Ft Calvin Harris
- Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon
- Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
- Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO/Lauren Bennett/Goonrock
- Just The Way You Are (Amazing) – Bruno Mars
- Price Tag – Jessie J
The BPI estimates it would take more than 6,600 years to listen to one billion single downloads played back to back. To have finished such a marathon listening session today, a music fan would have needed to start listening around about the same time as the plough was introduced to Europe's nascent farmers.
But the picture – with Brits buying 500,000 tracks every day – is a far cry from the BPI's usual complaints about piracy killing the music industry.
In fact, along with runaway digital sales, streaming services such as Spotify are booming. The UK's music industry has not been crippled by the pirates it seems.
Earlier this year, the NPG Group reported that the number of illegal music downloads fell 17 percent to 21 million worldwide.
That figure is dwarfed by the downloads the BPI claims are being made legally. Nonetheless, the BPI has taken a hard line stance against music pirates, using legal action to force ISPs to block file sharing sites.
As recently as 2010, the BPI estimated that three-quarters of UK music downloads were being made illegally. Still, hitting one billion legal downloads must be music to the ears of record labels.
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