London, UK (January 4, 2008)–Digital downloads for the final week of 2007 in the UK were double those of the same period 12 months earlier, according to figures just released by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Yet frontman Thom Yorke, in a BBC interview, says Radiohead would have been “stark raving mad” to release the band’s new album solely online.
The BPI attributes some of the surge in downloads, the highest ever for any 7-day period, to the popularity of MP3 players as Christmas gifts. There were reportedly 2.95 million downloads in the UK in the final seven days of 2007, which is nearly half of the total for the whole of 2004. UK downloads during 2007 totaled 77.5 million.
Downloads now account for over 90 percent of the UK’s single sales, but the reverse is true of album sales, where 95 percent are still being purchased in CD format. Album sales for the week before Christmas–traditionally the strongest week of the year–were 162 percent above the 2007 weekly average at 6.3 million, according to the Official UK Charts Company.
Yorke told the BBC that he believes fans still enjoy having a tangible physical release. Radiohead made the news recently with an experiment that made In Rainbows available as a digital download to fans at whatever fee they felt like paying. “We didn’t want it to be a big announcement about ‘everything’s over except the internet, the internet’s the future’, ’cause that’s utter rubbish,” Yorke is quoted as saying. “And it’s really important to have an artefact as well, as they call it, an object.”
Deluxe editions and box sets reportedly helped the pre-holiday album sales surge. Recent tours by veterans such as The Police and Genesis also encouraged back catalog sales. The recent London show by Led Zeppelin helped the band’s album sales to a 74 percent year-on-year increase.
Official UK Charts Company