A revival in rock music has helped increase album sales, but overall music sales are down, new figures show.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is a fan of The Darkness
Albums such as Permission To Land by The Darkness and a compilation of soft rock, helped the sale of 232 million albums last year, a record amount.
But heavy discounting by stores has seen the total value of music sales drop 4.6%, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Singles sales fell 31% in the 12 months up to September, the BPI said.
But in the most recent quarter, 50.4 million albums were sold - the first time more than 50 million have been sold before the Christmas boom period.
Album sales rose by 2.7% on the previous year. Big sellers included Permission To Land by The Darkness and the compilation album Power Ballads.
The best-selling album of the quarter was the compilation Now 55.
The actual value of albums sold in the 12-month period up to September was down by 2.2% however, due to shops dropping the price of albums.
Another disastrous performance in the singles market was a major factor in the resulting drop in overall music sales.
'Strong release schedule'
But the BPI is confident that the last few months of the year will see sales pick up.
A spokeswoman said: "The final quarter of the year is always a key period for the record industry with many important releases aimed at the Christmas market.
"This year is no exception with a strong release schedule featuring new material from Kylie and Busted as well as collections from the Beatles' archive and REM."
She said there could also be an upsurge in singles sales in the near future.
"There are some very exciting developments ahead with EMI launching two track CD singles which will help to encourage more sales," she said.