7digital.com reports this week that its sales have rocketed since the introduction of DRM-free music from major labels Warner and EMI, making it the UK's second biggest digital music retailer, after iTunes.

As most readers will recall, 7Digital.com was the first European company to secure the DRM-free MP3 rights to Warner Music's extensive back catalogue.

Goodbye CD

The company now reports that download sales have increased 300 per cent year-on-year for the year ending June 2008, a marked contrast to the slump in physical CD and DVD sales experienced by music retailers.

"High-quality, DRM-free MP3 downloads have really sparked a new wave of digital music take up," comments Ben Drury, CEO of 7digital.com.

"This format makes the digital music proposition simple for consumers with one universal format for all devices. Music lovers are beginning to realise that owning an iPod doesn't mean just buying tracks from iTunes and, in fact, MP3s are far superior in terms of compatibility.

"Since the introduction of EMI and Warner Music's DRM-free catalogues we've been attracting increased numbers of iPod and iPhone users, as well as those using Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry, Sony Walkman devices and mobile phones."

Top twenty MP3 albums

With the introduction of Warner's MP3 catalogue, approximately 80 per cent of 7digital.com's 4 million track catalogue is now available in the MP3 format.

"It is now clear that MP3 downloads represent the future for digital music. With two of the four major labels now supporting MP3 in the UK, we expect to see the whole market supporting MP3 in the not-too-distant future," concludes Drury.

7Digital's Top 20 MP3 albums for 2008 are:

1. Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
2. Kylie Minogue – X
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
4. Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
5. Hercules And Love Affair - Hercules And Love Affair
6. Madonna – Hard Candy
7. Hot Chip – Made In The Dark
8. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
9. Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha
10. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
11. The Kooks – Konk
12. Sigur Rós - Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
13. Hadouken! - Music For An Accelerated Culture
14. Pendulum - In Silico
15. Mystery Jets - Twenty One
16. Santogold – Santogold
17. R.E.M. – Accelerate
18. Foals – Antidotes
19. Elliot Minor - Elliot Minor
20. Alphabeat – Fascination.

Stay tuned later this week for TechRadar's full and frank interview with 7Digital's CEO and all-round digital music guru, Ben Drury.