U.K. online music sales up 72.7%

Digital revenue compensates for CD, DVD dip

LONDON — The increase in online music sales has compensated for the loss in CD and DVD sales for the first time in Blighty, according to royalty collection society PRS for Music.

The organization, which represents 65,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, revealed the turnaround in its financial results for 2009. It reported £623million ($944.8 million) in revenues in 2009, up 2.6% on 2008 — somewhat of a surprise as the first six months of 2009 showed a 3% decline in revenues.

Online revenues were up $19.4 million to $46 million, a 72.7% hike that reflects the growing popularity of the increased number of legal licensed digital music services available in the U.K. and Europe.

That growth outperformed the $13.2 million decline in revs from traditional CD and DVD formats, even though PRS for Music noted that the legal online music market is still comparatively small.

New PRS for Music CEO Robert Ashcroft said, “2009 was the first year in which the growth in revenues from the legal digital market compensated for the decline in revenues from traditional CDs and DVDs, though we remain cautious as to whether this represents a true turning point.”

The org stresses that it’s too early to predict a longterm return to growth for the recorded music business from its results.

The rise in annual revenues defied the pessimistic forecast by the society’s former CEO Steve Porter who last year warned members to expect lower revenues.

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