As the annual sales figures for music in the UK were released today by the BPI, the picture is, as the weatherman would say, a mixed one. For digital it was a bumper year with sales up by more than 350% to 26.4 million songs, and to add a little more shine to those stats both the last weeks of the year sales 1 million+ sales in a seven-day period. For hard copies of music, compilation albums tooka hammering, dropping 15.7% but individual artist album sales were the strongest in years with sales of 126.2 million.

The stats come from the Official UK Chart Company (OCC), which monitors sales in almost 6,000 stores and internet sites across the UK. However, the BPI create some stats of their own by announcing that “Illegal compilations bought from markets and boot fairs, particularly in compressed MP3s on CD-R is the fastest growing form of piracy, increasing by 100% in 2004.” Not quite sure how you go about compiling stats and ‘facts’ like that but hey who am I to question. Naturally, this evil crime is to blame for the decline in compilation album sales not the fact that we’re being swamped with the most stupid and mind-numbing offerings in the world … ever.

In the US, in the week following Christmas 20 million downloads were bought, beating by some margin the previous weekly record of 9.5 million. Total sales jumped by 147% to 352 million songs.