High Street Hits New Low

Christmas looks bleak for Ireland’s music industry, as sales have slumped 16 percent on last year, the fifth successive year of decline.

Album sales including downloads are down 10 percent on last year and, thanks to falling prices, are down 16 percent in value. CD album sales are down 13 percent, resulting in an 18 percent drop in monetary terms.

“We’re in serious decline,” Dick Doyle of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) told The Sunday Times.

“The market is down about 40 percent on 2003. I don’t think it’s ever been this bad. I can’t remember how far back we’d have to go to find this.”

Year-to-date figures for the DVD market show it is more stable – just 2 percent down on the same period in 2007.
According to figures from Chart Track, which compiles the Irish Top 50 singles and album charts for IRMA, downloads are up 62 percent but account for only a tiny share of the market.

Irish consumers still prefer to buy albums in the conventional manner, with fewer than 8 percent of copies downloaded.

Doyle believes 19 out of every 20 songs downloaded are illegal. This is despite the fact that music has never been cheaper to download.

A case by IRMA against ISPs over illegal downloading is due to be heard in the High Court in January.