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UK Digital Music Download Sales Accelerate

Retail sales of artist albums in the U.K. were up 1.5 percent year to year to 27.9 million units in the first quarter of 2006, according to latest industry figures.

Trade body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said in a statement that the switch to digital purchase of music had occurred faster than expected with digital download sales up 152 percent on the same period in 2005.

Digital sales of single recordings totaled 11.5 million units in the three-month period, making up 78 percent of all singles purchased compared to 44 percent in the same period in 2005 and a mere 4 percent in 2004. Two weeks ago, R&B act Gnarls Barkley scored the first U.K. No. 1 for a single, "Crazy," from digital sales alone.

BPI said that music DVD sales were up by 33 percent in the quarter with more than 1.5 units sold. It said the DVD market is now larger than singles, generating �63.3 million in trade value in 2005 compared with �55.5 million from singles.

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