Digital music revenues grew 8 per cent to $5.2 billion, reaching another milestone in the industry’s evolution. That news comes from IFPI’s Digital Music Report 2012, which also notes that major legal music services are now available in 58 countries, as compared to 23 in January 2011.

IFPI represents the recording industry worldwide, with a membership comprising about 1,400 record companies in 66 countries and affiliated industry associations in 45 countries.

This ever-increasing popularity of digital music holds across the board. Single track purchases went up 11 percent by volume, digital album purchases grew 24 percent by volume, and the number of people paying for a digital music subscription is estimated to have soared by 65 percent to 13.4 million worldwide in 2011 as compared to the previous year.

In the United States, the world’s largest music market, digital now accounts for 52 per cent of music industry revenues and are the largest individual category of U.S. record company revenues. That proportion is estimated to be even higher in South Korea (53 percent) and China (an amazing 71 percent), countries where the industry was skeptical digital music would be viable due to piracy concerns. IFPI estimates digital channels now account for 32 per cent of record company revenues globally, up from 29 per cent in 2010, which the organization compares to 5 percent for newspapers, 4 percent for books and 1 percent for films.

Single songs are the most popular choice for digital music purchases. The market for the top ten digital singles grew by 11 per cent in 2011, with Bruno Mars (pictured) unquestionably top of the charts. He had the top two global best-selling digital songs, totaling 22.7 million, with “Just the Way You Are” (12.5 million) and “Grenade” (10.2 million).

Actions against digital lockers and other services some pirates use to ply their illicit trade have caused a sharp decline in the number of consumers using those technologies, even before last week’s closure of Megaupload, and IFPI promises to continue encourage authorities in those efforts.

“As we enter 2012, there are good reasons for optimism in the world of digital music,” said Frances Moore, CEO of IFPI. “Legal services with expanding audiences have reached across the globe and consumer choice has been revolutionized. Meanwhile momentum is building in the fight against piracy as governments and a growing circle of intermediaries engage with our industry.”

She quickly added that any complacency in the fight against piracy would be a mistake, however. “Our digital business is progressing in spite ofthe environment in which it operates, not because of it,” Moore said. “In 2012 the momentum needs to build further. We need legislation from governments with coordinated measures that deal with piracy effectively and in all its forms. We also need more cooperation from online intermediaries such as search engines and advertisers to support the legal digital music business.”

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Full report [PDF] –