Tuesday, September 14, 2004

SALES DATA: The IFPI (the worldwide music industry, which is basically the RIAA and whoever they let in to do as they're told) has released figures suggesting that worldwide sales are down for the fourth year in succession. There's some curious kinks in their report, though:

The industry body said sales of recorded music in both audio and video formats fell by 7.6 percent in value and by 6.6 percent in units, compared with 2002, and is now valued at $32 billion, on unit sales of 2.7 billion.

First of all, let's give the music industry a slap on the back - it's a thirty-two billion industry. It's something to consider whenever you're being told how bad things are for the record business. It's shifting 2.7billion worth of stuff every year. And those guys pretend they're on their beam ends. If they were a country, they'd be looking at a GDP the same size as that of Guyana, or Andorra AND Papua New Guinea Combined.

Second: what's the sudden appearance of "video formats" in there for? Is the inclusion of this a way of disguising less frightening record sales? And why no mention of digital music downloads in these figures - wouldn't that add a few more millions to total sales?

The IFPI attributed the decline to three main factors: CD burning and illegal downloading; competition for consumer spending from DVDs and cell phones; and economic uncertainty, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

Nothing about piracy - wasn't that meant to be the big threat of the year? - but it does just underline the difference between what the music industry tells consumers, and what it says when it's talking to investors: how often does the RIAA mention DVD and cell phone sales being part of the problem (in other words, that the music industry isn't offering products people choose to buy) or the economic downturn as being an issue? Why don't they make an advert with Britney in sobbing "every time you buy a Hello Kitty phone cover, a singer-songwriter goes without supper"?

And, for comparison purposes, here's how the big five whiners are slicing up the total world music cake:

Universal - 23.5 per cent
EMI - 13.4
Sony - 13.2
BMG - 11.9
Warner - 12.7
Everybody else - everybody - 25.3


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