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Global music sales slide for fourth year: report

April 8, 2004

LONDON — Global sales of recorded music fell in 2003 for the fourth year running, hit by piracy, illegal downloads from the Internet and competition from other entertainment products, an industry body said Wednesday.

A fall of 7.6 percent in the value of recorded music sales last year affected almost all major markets, with Western Europe showing particularly sharp falls compared with recent years, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said in its annual report.

For the first time, no Latin American country was among the world's top 10 music markets, with sales in Mexico and Brazil sharply hit by economic downturn and rampant compact disc (CD) piracy, said the IFPI, which represents record labels.

But the music industry welcomed more robust album sales in the United States, helped by a strong end-of-year release schedule and a 46.6 percent rise in global sales of music digital versatile discs (DVDs).

The recording industry was also making significant progress in creating online music business, with US-based services reporting 19.2 million downloads in the second half of 2003, the IFPI said.

"Global music sales had another difficult year in 2003, under the combined effects of digital and physical piracy and competition from other entertainment products," IFPI chairman Jay Berman said in a statement.

"However there are some encouraging signs, particularly in the US market where the increase in album sales of late 2003 has continued into this year, and in the UK and Australia. Meanwhile, music video sales are rapidly becoming an important revenue stream for the industry," Berman added.

The global music market was worth 32 billion pounds (28.5 billion euros) last year, with total unit sales of 2.7 billion, including music videos.

"Looking to the future, the recording industry is responding on several fronts," Berman said.

"Record companies are making available a large volume of music catalogue for consumers to access online. At the same time they are stepping up the fight decisively against online piracy, starting legal actions against illegal file-sharing that will be extended in the coming months," he added.

Music industry bosses last week announced a new wave of lawsuits against suspected online music pirates in Europe and Canada, targeting nearly 250 alleged illegal file-sharers.

The IFPI announced on March 30 that it was taking legal action in four countries reluctantly, as part of a wider campaign to persuade people to use legal online music services. –Sapa-AFP

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George Michael to put future songs on internet, for free [12/03/2004]




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