By Bernard Zuel
March 18, 2004
Originally published on F2: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/18/1079199330947.html
Contrary to the music industry Chicken Littles, the sky is not falling down.
After several years warning of dire consequences for record companies because of rampant music downloading and copying, the Australian Record Industry Association yesterday released sales figures for 2003 showing an increase of nearly 8 per cent.
Album sales topped 50 million units, up from nearly 47 million in 2002. But even more dramatic was the increase in music DVDs where sales doubled in the year to nearly 5 million units.
Between them, albums and DVDs generated sales of a very healthy $646 million, up from $609.5 million.
What may have tempered celebrations at the record companies was the fact that while volumes were up 8 per cent, the dollar value of those sales increased by 2 per cent.
The disparity can be attributed to the strong move towards discounting prices for new CDs last year.
Lower prices have often been suggested as a way to address falling sales internationally but it was resisted for many years by the record companies here, who were putting a lot of effort into legal action against individuals and organisations involved in file sharing and copying.
The bad news for the record industry was the continued decline in sales of CD singles which dropped nearly 17 per cent, or 2 million CDs. This reflects a long-term trend internationally that the record industry believes has been accelerated by downloading music from the internet.
And at the terminal end of the industry, sales of cassettes continued their long-term collapse, dropping by nearly 40 per cent. In 2003 there were only 359,909 cassettes sold.
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