Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Robbie Is King of Online Sales; NET DOWNLOADS THREATEN TRADITIONAL SINGLE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Robbie Is King of Online Sales; NET DOWNLOADS THREATEN TRADITIONAL SINGLE

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDRE PAINE

ROBBIE Williams was today crowned the king of internet music after he topped sales of downloads.

Williams's single Feel was the most popular song bought for download in Britain in 2003 - the year internet music really took off.

Latest figures show that digital music for sale online is now threatening the future of the traditional single.

This year paid-for downloads are set to count towards the singles chart, while a cheaper version of the iPod player is likely to see the popularity of digital music explode.

While his album Escapology did not make the Top 20 in CD sales - it was first released in late 2002 along with the Feel single - Feel was the most popular track downloaded by fans for portable music players, according to On Demand Distribution (OD2).

Norah Jones was also popular with two tracks in the top 10, along with Dido and Christina Aguilera.

OD2, Europe's biggest legal music download service, says it has supplied two million tracks in Britain via the internet in 2003 and this year expects to shift 12 million across Europe.

Williams was the most popular with thousands of downloads of Feel. OD2 would not give the official figure.

The year's best-selling high street CD single by the Black Eyed Peas sold 650,000 - more than downloads but well behind the biggest hits since the chart began in 1952. Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody sold 2.13 million.

While CD album sales remain strong, sales of singles have fallen by 30 per cent in recent years. The slump is blamed on music piracy and illegal swapping of music over the internet, as well as legal downloads.

Later this year paid-for downloads are set to count towards the UK singles chart after music industry bosses ordered monitoring of sales data. Downloads are set to rise further as OD2, which is part-owned by singer Peter Gabriel, has cleared legal rights to a further 750,000 tracks - bringing the total to one million - after a deal with the major record labels. The company has also linked up with Coca-Cola, which plans to sell digital music. …

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