7.5bn music tracks have been streamed in the UK in 2012 so far, according to Universal Music UK boss David Joseph – a startling rise from the 1.1bn tracks that were streamed in 2011.

Joseph revealed the figures in an interview with The Guardian, where he also said that 68m albums and 147m singles have been sold in the UK so far this year. However, Joseph also warned that only nine new British acts have sold more than 100k albums this year – defined as ‘breaking through’ – down from 19 in 2011.

“Considering this is our lifeblood it is of concern to us, and something we focus on every day.” We’re wondering what level of streams might count as a breakthrough, and what that might mean for sales.

Joseph’s comments came alongside new data from the UK’s Official Charts Company showing that 500m singles have been sold in the UK so far this decade, with 2012 already the biggest-selling year.

He was speaking as Universal’s parent company Vivendi published its latest financial results, revealing that UMG’s global business saw its revenues for the first nine months of 2012 rise 2.1% year-on-year to €2.9bn, including an 8.6% increase in digital sales.

That said, the revenue rise was due to currency fluctuations: Vivendi says that at constant currency, UMG’s revenues were down 3.4%. The group posted EBITA of €238m for the nine months, down 2.5% (or 5% at constant currency).

Conclusions? Debate may rage over whether 8.6% digital growth is healthy enough, although PaidContent also notes a looming tipping point for UMG globally where digital revenues will overtake physical sales.

What we’re most interested in – but which, naturally, is not broken out in Vivendi’s financials – is what that rocketing number of streams referred to by Joseph means for revenues, versus iTunes and other established download stores.

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