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U2's label calls end to era of CD, vinyl singles

A major record label which is home to U2 and Arcade Fire has signalled the end of an era for music fans by stopping the production of singles, except for "rare exceptions".

Mercury Records will no longer schedule CD and vinyl versions of singles and will now rely almost entirely on downloads.

The company will only create physical versions when it is guaranteed to make a profit, after it lost money on them as a whole last year.

Label bosses have stopped lining up physical versions of singles with immediate effect, unless there is an "exceptional circumstance".


Ironically, Mercury is home to Elton John, whose Candle In The Wind '97 is still the biggest selling single of all time in the UK.

It comes as physical sales make up an ever-dwindling proportion of the chart, usually well below 1pc. In one recent week, combined vinyl and CD sales in the top 50 totalled only 2,292 -- just 0.16pc.

The 45rpm single was first introduced in 1949 and has been produced ever since, although sales have been pummelled first by the rise of the CD and then the supremacy of downloads.

With the drop in demand, singles have been increasingly difficult to buy on the high street. Despite regular suggestions of the return of vinyl, sales are still tiny -- and falling.