Music downloads now 'mainstream' in UK

Digital accounts for 99% of singles sold, while album downloads top 30 million and almost four billion tracks are streamed in 2012.

Online music is hitting the high notes as British fans move increasingly towards entirely digital listening.

A new report from the BPI, which represents the UK's music industry, shows a fifth of Britain's music buyers have fully transitioned to digital music, no longer purchasing physical copies.

Digital downloads now account for 99.6% of singles sold, and over 180 million tracks were legally bought online in the UK last year. In addition, songs were streamed online more than 3.7 billion times in 2012 - around 140 tracks per household.

Over 27% of the UK population now pay to download or stream music online.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said: "This is just the beginning. Labels are striking innovative new deals with mobile networks, hardware manufacturers, app developers and start-ups.

"The music fan will be the clear winner, as digital services evolve to deliver even richer experiences via superfast broadband and 4G to tablets and smart TVs."

Meanwhile, music service Spotify has named the song streaming capital of the UK.

Fans in Edinburgh streamed the most digital tracks in 2012, with Cardiff, Southampton, London and Bristol completing the top five.

The BPI's Digital Music Nation report also predicted that 44 million people in Britain would have access to superfast 4G mobile internet by the end of 2016. It suggested that 4G providers would heavily promote music streaming services as part of their offering.

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