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    'Download Generation' Buys Music At Checkouts

    x&y.jpgMore than a quarter of all music albums bought in Britain now pass through supermarket checkouts, figures have revealed.


    They show the increasingly dominant position of high street giants such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's in the music industry, with supermarkets taking 26 per cent of total sales last year. Just a decade ago, the supermarkets barely stocked CDs and as recently as 2001 they spoke for only 15 per cent of the market.


    The best-selling album in the world last year was Coldplay's X&Y followed by Maria Carey's The Emancipation Of Mimi and 50 Cent's The Massacre. The top-selling album in Britain was James Blunt's You're Beautiful. Exactly 50 per cent of the album sales in Britain came from homegrown artists.

    Today's figures, published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, show that specialist music shops, including chains such as HMV, now control only 44 per cent of the market, down from 52 per cent in 2001.


    Critics warn that as the supermarkets increase their share of the market, their cut-price offers on a limited range of top-selling CDs will stifle smaller labels and kill off independent music stores.


    Supermarkets argue that their lower prices benefit consumers and the music industry is as vibrant as ever.


    A spokesman for Asda said: "We helped get album prices down from £13 or £14 to below £10 and in terms of volume people are buying more music than 10 years ago.


    "Obviously we are mindful of the fact that you can always find a record shop on the high street that has gone out of business.


    "However, we see no reason why there isn't room for other people in the same way artisan butchers and bakers still have a role to play and offer something other than what the supermarkets are providing."


    The other big winner has been the internet with the rise of iPods and digital downloading, although the web still accounts for only 11 per cent of sales.


    The figures show that in total 31,290 albums were released last year, a 10 per cent rise on 2004 . About 5,000 of those were released only on the internet.


    There has also been a marked shift in the type of music consumersare buying. Last year rock overtook pop for the first time, partly because an ageing listening public is buying more of the "heavier" music styles of its younger days.


    The over-Forties now account for almost half of a market once regarded as youth dominated. Last year, rock sales were 36 per cent of the total, easily outstripping pop with 26 per cent. Total retail sales of all forms of recorded music in Britain were £1.89billion last year, down 2.7 per cent on 2004. This included 172.6 million CDs and 8.3 million DVDs.


    Where we buy:


    2001 2003 2005

    Music specialist 52% 47% 44%

    Supermarkets 15% 22% 26%

    Chains 19% 16% 13%

    Internet 5% 8% 11%

    Mail order/clubs 6% 4% 3%

    Other 3% 4% 3%


    Source: Audio Visual Trak Survey

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