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Tuesday, October 02, 2001
World music sales spin lower

Hits from N'Sync, Janet Jackson and Destiny's Child failed to stave off a five percent slide in first-half global music sales as slowing economies and illegal CD copying stole away fans, a leading industry body said on Friday. World CD sales fell 4.6 percent while cassettes and singles continued their long-term decline to skid 16.3 percent and 14.4 percent lower respectively, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said in its interim report.

The music industry has seen little growth in recent years as a boost from CD replacement sales seen over the past decade wanes. Music fans also now have a wider array of diversions to chose from, spanning video games, pay-TV and mobile phones. The economic slowdown and extensive CD copying, often from pirate websites, have aggravated that trend this year, despite the downfall of former industry nemesis Napster. Among the hardest hit have been the five major music groups which account for 75 percent of sales -- Universal Music , Warner Music, Sony , BMG and EMI. However, easing the pain later this year will be a strong line-up of new albums from artists such as Sony Music's Michael Jackson and EMI's Robbie Williams, the IFPI noted.

Music sales fell in all but two of the top 10 markets in the first six months of the year. In Britain, a strong release schedule including hits from Gorillaz and Travis and a relatively robust retail sector lifted sales 10.5 percent, while a surge in local artists boosted French sales 7.9 percent.

However, sales in the world's biggest market, the United States, saw a 5.3 percent drop to $5.8 billion while the second biggest, Japan, saw sales slide 7.2 percent to $2.7 billion. CD "burning" or copying on to blank discs has overtaken sales of legitimate CDs in some countries including Germany where music sales fell 11.3 percent to $935 million. Global sales of blank recordable CDs are expected to rise 40 percent this year.

``The availability of unauthorised music and extensive copying has been exacerbated in the economic slowdown. We've always had the problem of copying and piracy but in an expanding economy it has less of a commercial impact,'' said the chairman and CEO of the London-based IFPI, Jay Berman.

Sales in Latin America fell a dramatic 20 percent with the Brazilian market tumbling 37 percent as economic woes and rampant piracy sliced away at legitimate sales. Meanwhile, sales in Asia slid 8.1 percent and Europe remained flat overall. The IFPI does not provide an overall figure for global music sales in interim results as it only covers 45 of the 72 countries included in the full-year report. In unit terms, music sales worldwide fell 6.7 percent in the first half of the year.

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