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Business News (more headlines) 10-04-2004

IFPI Releases World Recorded Music Sales Figures For First Half Of 2004

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Global sales of recorded music - audio and music video - grew by 1.7% in units and fell 1.3% in value in the first half of 2004, compared to the same period in 2003.

Audio sales fell by 2.7% in value, while the music video sector grew by 20.2% driven by DVD music video, which increased by 26.6%.

Interim sales of all audio and music video formats totalled $US13.9 billion, compared to $US14.1 billion in 2003.

The figures reflect a slowing of the rate of decline in music sales of the past four years. This is the best first-half year result achieved since 2000.

Sales in regional and individual territories varied widely, with the effects of unauthorised file-sharing on the internet and commercial piracy, among other factors, still affecting many of the world's markets.

The US music market is leading the recovery, while markets such as Canada, Germany and Japan are showing a substantial reduction in their rate of decline. But other markets including Spain, Italy and the Netherlands are still weak, and more recent reversals have hit sales in France and Australia.

Two bright spots are DVD music video, which continues to show strong growth and has helped offset the decline in audio formats. Meanwhile, the growth of legitimate digital music downloads which suggests a strong future for the online music market. These are not currently included in official industry figures.

The figures, including a summary of the world's top ten markets, were published today by IFPI, representing the recording industry worldwide. IFPI has over 1,450 major and independent record company members in more than 70 countries.

Jay Berman, IFPI Chairman and CEO said: "There are some signs that the world's markets are beginning to recover, boosted by the continued growth of DVD music video, digital sales and added-value releases. However, markets continue to be hampered by the dual effects of commercial and internet piracy. IFPI and its national groups are continuing to persuade music fans to download from legitimate music sites, and not file-share illegally. More and more consumers are using authorised download services - a distinctly positive sign."

Regional and Country Highlights

In the North American region, the USA, the world's biggest market, rebounded from a steep drop in the first half of 2003, showing a recovery with 5% growth in units, and 3.9% growth in value. Excluding record club sales, unit sales and value were up 8.5% and 4.7% respectively (as reported by RIAA)*. Strong album releases, retail promotions, and value-added product are helping to drive the recovery. Digital sales continued to grow, outselling physical singles by 10:1. The Canadian market was virtually flat, resulting in overall growth for the region.

In Europe, music sales fell by 5% in units and 7.7% in value, most affected by steep drops in Austria, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The UK, the world's third largest market saw a modest (0.6%) increase in CD sales, helped by new acts including Franz Ferdinand, Keane and Joss Stone, and other high profile albums. In Germany, sales continued to fall, but at a significantly slower rate than in previous years.

In Asia, there are signs that the long term decline in the Japanese market has at last slowed. Japan, which accounts for 80% of sales in the Asian region, showed a slight increase in volume and stable revenues. South Korea, which is severely affected by online piracy, again fell steeply, by 25% in value. Hong Kong also fell sharply. Both markets have seen a significant reduction in the number of high profile releases. Although physical piracy seriously undermines China's ability to realise its true potential, the country now has the second largest Asian market and saw strong overall growth.

The Latin America region saw an increase in value of 23.5%, largely due to increased sales in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, economic recovery in the region and a strong release schedule.

Australia, buoyed during 2003 by strong local repertoire and DVD music video sales, dropped 9% in value. New Zealand continued to fall, down 6.8% in value.

Sales in the second half of the year generally account for around 60% of annual sales, and this year will be helped by a strong schedule of releases from acts including Andrea Bocelli, Britney Spears, Daniel Bedingfield, Destiny's Child, Eminem, Green Day, Joss Stone, Ludacris, Nelly, R.E.M, Robbie Williams, Shania Twain and U2.

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