Music Sales Trend Noted

U.S. music sales continue to decline but the rate of decrease is slowing, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

The industry organization has revealed that sales of recorded music and videos slipped 6 percent to $11.9 billion in 2003. The business saw a 7.1 percent decline in CD sales.

However, the rate of decline seems to have slowed, according to the RIAA. The organization reports that CD sales fell 8.9 percent in 2002. The industry group believes the shift began emerging in autumn as the RIAA began waging legal action against file downloaders. The sales figures don't include digitally distributed tracks, the RIAA says.

"The data suggests some stabilizing trends in the music industry. The year 2003 was important for the recording industry, with record companies offering consumers the widest choice and variety of ways to access music ever available, including through satellite radio and Webcasting streams, exclusive release deals, different pricing strategies, new formats and value-added CD/DVD combinations in retail outlets," says an RIAA statement.

RIAA's Review

"While the music industry continues to face serious challenges, we are pleased that trends appear to be going in a more positive direction," says Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the RIAA.

"Record companies have taken a proactive approach to dealing with piracy, implementing educational efforts and enforcement programs that have dramatically increased awareness of the illegality of unauthorized file sharing, while at the same time ensuring that their music is available on a wide array of legal online services," Bainwol says. "However, while legitimate online services continue to proliferate and evolve to meet consumer demands, this is truly a marketplace in its infancy."

A number of new online music services have emerged in the past year. Also, several heavy hitters in the tech industry--notably Microsoft--have announced intentions to launch competing services soon.

"Continued enforcement efforts are needed in order to create a level playing field on which legitimate online music services can compete and thrive," RIAA's Bainwol says.

The 2003 statistics are supplied by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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