Slower Decline In Music Sales

The news that global music revenues aren’t plummeting as fast as in recent years suggests anti-piracy laws are starting to have some effect.

The latest figures from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry show revenues fell by 3 percent in 2011, which is good news compared with the 8.9 percent drop the previous year.

Digital revenues rose by 8 percent from $4.81 billion to $5.2 billion, although that wasn’t enough to prevent the overall market falling from $16.7 billion in 2010 to $16.2 billion.

However much human rights organisations may protest unpopular “three-strikes” laws and site-blocking measures, they do seem to be having an effect on music fans.

The IFPI’s “Recording Industry in Numbers” report published March 26 indicates that France – which has strict three-strikes legislation – and the European countries that have ordered ISPs to block access to sites such as The Pirate Bay are beginning to gain ground in their battle against illegal downloaders.

Marie-Francoise Marais of Hadopi, the organisation responsible for running France’s anti-piracy laws, recently told the IFPI’s Digital Music Report for 2012 that more people are switching to legal download sites.

“There is a change in perception from the public, and they are accepting what we’re doing, and that our efforts will have a positive impact on France,” she said.

In the 18 months since Hadopi started sending out warning letters to suspected illegal file-sharers, the IFPI reckons piracy in France has dropped by 25 percent.

The number of subscribers to digital music services rose to 13.4 million globally, a 65 percent increase on 2010.
Globally, the number of song downloads on pay sites such as iTunes rose 19 percent to 3.7 billion.

In the UK, where digital subscription revenues grew 47.5 percent, overall digital revenues shot up 24.7 percent from $364.2 million to $454.2 million.

The $90 million increase wasn’t enough to prevent overall revenues falling by 3 percent ($27.1 million) to $1.43 billion.
Physical music revenues in the UK dropped by 14.1 percent to $828.7 million, which is still almost 70 percent of the market.

In 2010 Britain suffered an 11 percent fall in overall revenues and was overtaken by Germany as the world’s third-largest music market. The 2011 figures keep it in fourth place.

The IFPI report also confirmed that British artists’ share of total UK album revenues was 52.7 percent, its highest since 2007.

Brit acts also accounted for 42.6 percent of revenues from UK single releases, largely due to such acts as Adele, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J.

Europe’s digital sales increased 23.7 percent as physical sales fell 11.7 percent, resulting in the overall market falling by 4.7 percent.