Brit album sales hit high note in 2004

Thirteen of the top 20 albums were by U.K.-signed acts

LONDON — U.K. album sales grew by 2.6% in 2004, reaching a new high of 163.4 million units sold, according to the British Phonographic Industry.

Thirteen of the year’s top 20 albums were by U.K.-signed acts, while half of the top 10 were debuts. The debut from Scissor Sisters was the top seller in the U.K. last year.

Legal download sales increased to 5.7 million tracks during the year, while DVD sales rose 47% from 2003.

“These figures show that the investment by U.K. record companies in new British music is paying off,” BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said. “Despite huge competition for consumer spending and the ever-present threat of piracy, music is more popular than ever with the British public.”

In the final week of 2004 download sales were 312,000 compared with 282,000 physical singles. Jamieson noted, “While many High Street stores were closed for the bank holidays, online download sites are open 24/7. To that extent, you could say it was a blip, but it’s an important milestone in the growth of download sales and a sign of things to come.”

U2’s track “Vertigo” was the biggest-selling download, Band Aid 20 recorded the top-selling single and the DVD of “Live Aid” was the most popular DVD.