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Brits Download Over 1 Billion Illegal Songs In 2010

December 16, 2010

A study for the recording industry lobby group BPI said on Thursday that at least 1.2 billion songs will have been illegally downloaded by the end of 2010 in Britain.

The estimate dwarfs the total of 370 million tracks across singles and albums expected to be bought legally this year.

Music industry executives said that the estimate underlines the scale of the problem facing record labels and other investors who are reluctant to spend on new talent when revenues become undercut.

“Illegal downloading continues to rise in the UK,” Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive, said in a statement.

“It is a parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music, and is holding back investment in the fledgling digital entertainment sector.”

Paul Bedford, investment director at asset management group Ingenious, told Reuters that “Our experience of investing directly in recorded music artists has shown us that it remains incredibly risky against a landscape dominated by illegal downloading.”

The BPI’s “Digital Music Nation 2010″ report said that the U.K.’s digital singles sales could reach up to 160 million in 2010 versus 150 million last year, while digital album sales would reach about 21 million.

The total digital market works out as the equivalent of 370 million separate tracks.

According to Official Charts Company data, this year saw the first single track download to sell over a million copies and over 19 albums sold over 100,000 digital copies, including two that surpassed 250,000 sales each.

BPI estimates that digital services now account for 24.5 percent of the U.K. record industry revenue, up from 19.2 percent.

However, rising levels of income from digital music are not offsetting declining revenues from slumping CD sales.

The study calculates the total number of people in the U.K. illegally downloading music on a regular basis is 7.7 million.

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