Music sales get back on track after four-year slump, says IFPI

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The Independent Online

Music sales are showing signs of recovery after a four-year slump, according to industry figures published yesterday, despite the continued growth of digital downloading.

The International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said legitimate downloading was beginning to take off, but even excluding these, the decline in music sales appears to have bottomed out. Global sales of recorded music, including audio and music video, fell by 1.3 per cent in value terms from January to June, the first time the rate of decline in sales has slowed in four years. "There are some signs that the world's markets are beginning to recover," Jay Berman, the chairman and chief executive of IFPI, said.

The music industry has been ravaged for four years by the boom in internet piracy, but these figures have given hope that it may adapt to the download age. Mark Harrington, of Bear, Stearns, said: "These figures were higher than the market was expecting. If legitimate download figures had been included, my guess is the market would have been flat." The second half of the year has releases scheduled from bestselling artists such as Britney Spears and Eminem, which should help prop up sales.

Mr Berman warned that markets were still being "hampered" by piracy, with South Korea, Hong Kong and China suffering badly. The fastest area of growth has been in DVD music videos, with sales up 27 per cent.

In the US, sales were up 3.9 per cent by value. But European sales were down 7.7 per cent. Albums by Franz Ferdinand, Keane and Joss Stone helped sales rise 0.6 per cent in the UK.