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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
British music sales leap
U2
U2's sales jumped after their Brit Award win
The value of British record sales received a boost in the first quarter of 2001 due to the success of artists such as Dido and Hear'Say.

According to figures released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), 12-month sales of CD albums have broken through the 1bn barrier for the first time.

The figures come despite continuing concerns in Britain and abroad about the effect of CD piracy and the internet.

The rise in album sales - seen in both vinyl and CD formats - was driven by some high-selling albums including Dido's No Angel, Eva Cassidy's Songbird, Coldplay's Parachutes and Hear'Say's Popstars.

Chris Martin of Coldplay
Coldplay's sales: also boosted by Brit award
The figures also reflected the influence of the BRIT Awards, which drove up the sales of nominated artists and winners - including U2, whose album sales increased by 178% in the two weeks following the awards.

The BPI has also reported that recorded music is becoming slightly cheaper, with the average price of a single CD album falling by 3% in the first quarter to 10.13.

The sales of UK artists in their home market have increased, but at 48% remain just under half of product sold.

A BPI spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "It's encouraging that some of these artists, such as David Gray and Dido, are also receiving international acclaim - including the all important US market."

Vinyl lives on

Closer analysis of the BPI figures reveals that 2001 growth looks particularly strong as sales in the first quarter of 2000 were depressed compared with 1999.

Music cassette
Cassette sales are in steep decline
The figures also show that different sound carrier formats have fared very differently in the marketplace.

Years after the advent of the CD, 12" vinyl single and album sales are rising.

CD singles rose too, but only compared with poor figures for 2000 with unit sales still down on 1999.

But compared with 2000, cassette album sales are down dramatically, 56% in units, as are Minidisc album sales, down 67% in units.

'Concern'

The recent International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) report on world sound carrier sales suggested that free download services and CD copying were having an impact on world sales.

"We remain concerned about the level of CD-R piracy, despite CD album sales having reached a high," said the BPI spokeswoman.

But both the BPI and IFPI figures show a complex picture which suggests that changing format fashions are at least as significant an influence on sales.

See also:

26 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Napster blamed for CD singles slump
02 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Brits winners' sales soar
09 Feb 01 | Business
Inquiry into CD sales
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