07.02.2013, Words by dummymag

1 in 5 music buyers abandon the high street

A fifth of the UK's music buyers now do so exclusively online, as HMV announces the sell-off of one of its flagship stores.

In the wake of HMV’s collapse into insolvency a few weeks ago, the high street received a further blow today as it emerged that almost a fifth of music buyers have gone exclusively digital.

The report from the BPI, the music industry’s trade body, found that 19.6% of music buyers only shop online, and that over a quarter of the UK downloaded or streamed music in 2012. It was also the year that digital outstripped physical sales for the first time, with 30.5m albums and 183.3m singles bought online.

Equally concerning for traditional music stores is the rise of streaming services. Spotify, Napster and their ilk now contribute £49m annually to British labels, and make up of 15.2% of their income. And this is just the legal side of downloading; Britain is the second biggest culprit for online music piracy after the US, with over 43m shares in the first six months of 2012 alone.

The report comes on the same day that beleaguered music giant HMV announced it would be selling its Piccadilly Circus store, with 66 shops around the UK up for grabs leaving 930 staff unsure of their jobs, according to the BBC. The 50,000 sq ft site was the second largest record shop in the world when it launched in 1986, and its demise is indicative of an industry facing tough challenges from what the BPI dubbed “the digital music switchover.”

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