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Old school music sales fell 8% last year

Digital fails to offset decline, industry blames pirates

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Worldwide music sales declined by more than eight per cent in 2008 to $18.42bn, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

It reported a sharp drop in the US, where sales dramatically tumbled by nearly 19 per cent last year. Sales were a little less dire in Europe where they fell more than six per cent for 2008, while Latin America was down 4.7 per cent.

The only bright spot was in Asia, with sales up just one per cent on 2007’s figures.

Physical audio formats such as CDs, LPs and cassettes unsurprisingly took a hammering last year.

Global sales of those formats dropped 15 per cent last year to $13.83bn. The US took the brunt of that dip where physical music format sales declined by nearly a third.

Digital music sales saw an upswing, but it wasn’t enough to offset the big drop in physical audio format sales.

Song downloads, mobile music, online subscriptions and streaming through ad-funded services, were up 24 per cent worldwide to $3.78bn in 2008.

Sales were the strongest in the US, where they grew 16.5 per cent to $1.78bn last year.

The music industry has blamed widespread piracy for the global decline in album and single sales, as it continues to grapple with new business models, the spread of BitTorrent tracker sites and legal spats with individuals keen to give tunes away for free.

Just last week the four co-founders behind the infamous BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay were handed one-year sentences and ordered to pay hefty fines, after a Swedish court convicted them of being accessories to breaching copyright laws. ®

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