The growing popularity of internet music services like Spotify has sent the number of streamed tracks up by almost 700 per cent in the UK.
In an interview with The Guardian, David Joseph, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music UK and Ireland revealed that over 7.5 billion tracks have been streamed this year.
During the whole of 2011 only 1.1 billion tracks were streamed through the likes of Spotify, Deezer and Last.fm, representing a seismic shift in the way Brits are consuming music.
The Guardian points out that another 250 billion songs have been viewed through YouTube this year.
Break on through
The streaming figures are juxtaposed with Joseph's concerns about the falling number of UK breakthrough artists (defined by 100,000 album sales) this year.
Nine new acts (potentially rising to 12 or 13) attained the 100,000 mark in 2012, according to Joseph, falling from 19 in 2011. Are the higher streaming numbers affecting album sales?
Joseph said: "There are two or three more acts to break but it doesn't look like reaching 19," claiming 20+ is the expected norm.
"Considering this is our lifeblood it is of concern to us, and something we focus on every day," he added.
Despite the concerns over breakthrough acts, singles sales in the UK are, this year, at the highest level this century, according to the UK's Official Charts, buoyed by improved digital download figures.