Value of record sales down 14% in two years

The value of record sales has fallen by 14 per cent worldwide in the past two years, a drastic decline blamed by the music industry on online piracy and slowing economies, as well as competition from other entertainment sources.

Analysts reckoned the downturn, believed to be the worst since 1992, shows no signs of letting up, and even the record companies are gloomy about prospects as the motors for sales – youngsters, and adults rebuying music they owned on vinyl on CDs – have begun to run down.

Figures from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) showed a fall of 9.2 per cent in global sales of recorded music in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2001. That follows a drop of 5 per cent at the same time last year compared with 2000. Sales of singles and cassettes continued their long-term decline, sliding by 17 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

Sales in Western Europe fell 7.5 per cent, and by a remarkable 14 per cent in Japan, according to the IFPI, which suggested the falls were the largest since it had begun to keep detailed records in 1992.

Millions of songs are swapped online in MP3 format – which has never been officially used by the record industry. However, the IFPI was prepared to put a value on "physical" piracy, by rogue CD plants in eastern Europe and former Soviet states. It said that was costing it $4.3bn (£2.7bn) annually in lost sales.

But an IFPI spokesman said it was "impossible to put a value" on the effect of internet piracy and copying of CDs by individuals, because no money changed hands. "There's no method for saying how much it is costing. But interviews with people who download files and copy CDs shows that they buy less music," he said.

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