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Record year for album sales in UK (2003)


Story: Jack Foley

ALBUM sales in the UK rose by 7.6 per cent last year, to a record high - but while the high turnover has served to allay fears about the damaging effects of Internet downloading, people’s taste continues to be questionable.

According to a report by the Official UK Charts Company, almost 121 million artist albums were sold, with Dido topping the list of the nation’s favourite, for her second album, Life For Rent, and Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera coming second and third, with Justified and Stripped.

There was little improvement in the singles market, where the Black Eyed Peas laid claim to the biggest seller of 2003, for their accessible crossover hit, Where is the Love? (a song which featured Justin Timberlake, and which sold 625,000 copies), and where efforts from Gareth Gates (Spirit in the Sky) and R Kelly (Ignition) came second and third.

However, the singles market continued to decline, with a drop of nearly 30 per cent on overall sales.

True connoisseurs of music seemed to stick to albums, as, sadly, of the top 200 singles of the year, 26 came from the winners, runners-up or losers of reality TV talent shows (how depressing!).

On the album front, Dido's Life For Rent sold 2.1 million copies since its release in September, emulating the success of her 2001 debut, No Angel.

Offering slightly more hope, however, was the second biggest-selling album artists, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who secured the position by way of the continued success of 2002’s By the Way and the recently-released Greatest Hits.

Talking of greatest hits, Michael Jackson's greatest hits compilation, Number Ones, along with his back catalogue, helped to make him the fourth best-selling album artist of 2003.

However, the news was not all good for the industry as while album sales rose overall by 10 million units, to 159.3 million, the trend towards cut-price CDs meant that profits have not risen.

Supermarkets and online retailers, such as Amazon, which is being investigated, have helped push prices down to under £10.

The top five favourite albums of 2003:

1. Dido - Life For Rent
2. Justin Timberlake - Justified
3. Christina Aguilera - Stripped
4. Daniel Bedingfield - Gotta Get Thru This
5. Norah Jones - Come Away With Me

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