Downloads prop up faltering music sales

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Digital music sales continue to rise, with iTunes now the leading source of music in the US.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's Recording Industry in Numbers 2010 report,
while total worldwide music sales fell 7.2 percent last year, digital sales rose 9.2 percent to make up a quarter of all music sales.

North American sales showed the slowest growth, at just 1.1 percent.

"Global music sales in 2009 fell by seven percent. This is disappointing, but amid the decline there are some very positive points. No fewer than thirteen countries saw music sales grow in 2009, including important markets such as Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Sweden and the UK," said IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy.

"Digital sales in some of those markets rose at very encouraging rates, reflecting the new opportunities of online and mobile channels."

These guys know who they blame for the poor figures. According to the IFPI, Spain and Canada, two countries with particularly weak legal defences against piracy, show the sharpest falls, at -14.3 percent and -7.4 percent respectively.

Peer to peer piracy remains the most prevalent channel for illegal music distribution of unauthorised content, accounting for more than 20 percent of internet traffic globally, says the IFPI.

"There is a huge battle ahead, but also signs that the tide of opinion among governments is shifting as piracy's impact on the economy and jobs becomes clear," says Kennedy.

"There is no doubt in my mind that growth is within reach for the music business - it depends, to a large extent, on how quickly governments can act to deal with piracy and, in doing so, tackle a market distortion that overshadows not just music but all the creative industries."

The report also includes a list of the best-selling albums for 2009. You probably don't want to know this, but Susan Boyle had the best selling album of 2009 globally with I Dreamed a Dream, which sold 8.3 million units.