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Digital music revenue surged 8% worldwide in 2011

January 23, 2012 |  6:47 am

Bruno Mars and the Smeezingtons

Sales of music on CDs may be in free fall, but digital music revenue has been climbing steadily, jumping 8% last year, with help from strong performances by artists such as Bruno Mars, according to a report released Monday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Digital music sales totaled $5.2 billion in 2011, up from $4.8 billion in 2010, according to the IFPI, a trade group that represents 1,400 music companies worldwide.

IFPI Digital Music Reveue

Although 32% of the music industry's global revenue came from digital sources, such as downloads and subscriptions to music services, some markets derived a far greater share from digital sales. In the U.S., digital music sales in 2011 surpassed sales of music in physical formats such as CDs, vinyl records and cassettes tapes, making up 52% of the industry's revenue. In South Korea, 53% of music revenue was from digital.

Bruno Mars, whose "Just The Way You Are" won him the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at last year's Grammy Awards, snagged three of the top 10 best-selling digital singles last year. 

IFPI Top 10 digital singles 2011 Bruno Mars LMFAO

As the volume of purchased downloaded music continued to sizzle, growing 17% to 3.6 billion singles and albums last year, the subscription music business took off.

The number of paying subscribers to music services rocketed 65% to 13.4 million in 2011 from 8.2 million in 2010, the IFPI said. In Sweden, where the music streaming service Spotify is based, subscription revenue accounted for 84% of digital music revenue in the first 10 months of 2011.


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-- Alex Pham

Photo: From left, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Bruno Mars -- a songwriting and production team known as the Smeezingtons --  at their recording studio in Hollywood. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press