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IFPI sees digital music slowdown, still blames piracy

updated 09:15 am EST, Thu January 20, 2011

IFPI warns Internet music sales only up 6pc

The IFPI tried to raise alarm on Thursday with a warning in its latest annual report that digital music sales were slowing down. Sales through iTunes and other outlets climbed by just six percent worldwide and made up 29 percent of their revenues. The slowdown came both from a maturing of the digital music market but was also blamed on piracy.

The agency tried to blame piracy alone for drops in creative variety and output. Just a quarter of the top 50 artists worldwide in 2010 were new, it said. Local music was also reportedly hurt as countries like Spain not only saw their music sales fall, in Spain's case 22 percent, and none of its local music cracked the top 50. Roughly 17 percent fewer Americans were employed as musicians.

Revenue among the IFPI's labels has dropped 31 percent in the past six years, which it blamed almost exclusively on piracy.

Praise was also given to those countries that codified the IFPI's business model in law, such as France's Hadopi three-strikes law and similar steps in South Korea. Attempts to block The Pirate Bay were also praised. It hoped countries like New Zealand and the UK would follow suit and was pressuring Internet providers to act as enforcers despite safe harbor rights that exempted some from doing so, most often in the US.

Critics have questioned the accuracy of the IFPI's claims and have noted that its insistence on legal protection for its traditional business hasn't necessarily been effective. In France, piracy ncreased as the automatic traffic monitoring merely meant pirates had to use alternate methods or tougher encryption. Observers have also noted that IFPI reports have traditionally avoided exploring any other potential factors, such as in the quality of the artists its labels promote, the impact of the economic crunch on spending habits, or possible broader shifts away from music as a pastime.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Person Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Keep your heads in the sand

    That's it, IFPI, keep your heads in the sand. You'll soon be dead if you keep this up.

    While piracy may be partly to blame, it is certainly not the only thing. So Spain's sales rate fell by 22 percent, huh? Last I checked, Spain was one of the countries hit hardest by the economic crisis, like Greece, and austerity measures might have something to do with it.

    But no, keep singing the piracy song to the exclusion of other factors...

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...I'm sure forcing iTunes to raise their price to $1.29 for most songs had nothing to do with it either.

  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Piracy my butt.

    "Observers have also noted that IFPI reports have traditionally avoided exploring any other potential factors, such as in the quality of the artists its labels promote, the impact of the economic crunch on spending habits, or possible broader shifts away from music as a pastime."

    In my case, all of the above items hold true. My spending on music has dropped all the way to $0. I already own (legitimately) more music than I can possibly consume in my available leisure time, there are few compelling new works currently, and indeed there seems to be a lack of, or ineffectual promotion.

    The only item worth buying this holiday season was a beautifully refreshing new work by a talented little 10-year old kid, Jackie Evancho. It was the only music/video I've purchased for the family in ~6 months.

    The 'mega event' performances & promotions (say, like a MJ spectacle) seem to have disappeared. There are sooo many players competing for attention, the whole industry feels watered down. And don't get me started on the music "formula". What happened to original artists? All the music now sounds EXACTLY THE SAME. And I know this comment is going to tick some people off, but... If you've heard one rap song, you've heard them all.

    It's similar to the movie industry - there are sooo many titles, they come and go overnight, and none of them are any good. There are no more 'epic' films (such as Lawrence of Arabia). There are no more 'major events' that an entire country clambers to collectively consume and relate with - and become a cultural icon (like Star Wars - "Luke, I am your father").

    The entertainment industries are killing themselves, it has little or nothing to do with piracy.

  1. Zaren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My buying's up

    I bought two albums for my wife for Christmas, and three other albums for the both of us a few weeks ago.

    One for my wife was the new Disturbed album on physical media, and the other was the new Duran Duran. That album wasn't available from any retailer I could find, so I bought the album on iTunes and burned it to CD for her.

    The other three were physical media and downloads from a band called Abney Park ( They're a "steampunk" band, and have some of the most original music I've heard in years. They are also independent, so they owe allegiance (and royalties) to no major label. I highly recommend checking them out - they have a bunch of songs available for a free listen on their myspace page, and all of their albums are available through the iTunes store (for a lower cost then buying them directly from their official web site).

  1. phillymjs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Well, duh

    It won't further their record companies' goal of getting governments to pass laws to protect their profits if they don't scream piracy every time there's a minor sales drop.

    They can't just admit that the fact they're putting out an inferior product might have something to do with the fact that people are buying less of it.

  1. devospice

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Quality music

    has pretty much gone underground. You have to search for it to find it.

    mytdave said:
    All the music now sounds EXACTLY THE SAME.

    Dino-Mike agrees with you and wrote a really funny song about it.
    All The Same by Dino-Mike:

    And I know this comment is going to tick some people off, but... If you've heard one rap song, you've heard them all.

    As a life-long fan of hip hop I agree with you. The stuff coming out today from the major labels is garbage. And I wrote (what I hope is a really funny) song about it.
    Half-Assed Rapper by Devo Spice:

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My Issue and my habbits

    I don't like digital downloads. If I am going to spend money on stuff that is the same price as physical media, I am going to buy the physical media. Here is the 2 problems with physical media. Stores carry a small selection now. And the phyiscal media retails for near $20.00 a album which I WILL NOT PAY. I only buy CD's that are $10.00 or less.

    Issue 1) Labels have priced themselves out of the market. Many people can not justify paying $20.00 for a album. People who would other wise be willing to purchase lots of music don't because its to costly. Myself if CD's are in the $10.00 range I would be picking them up all the time. I do with movies and own over 350 DVDs now.

    Issue 2) Lack of selection. If you can't find it at the store, that leaves you the options of buying online and having it shipped, buying it as a digital download or using limewire to download it until its at the store to buy. I go with the last option. I do not want to buy digital music and the last time I bought CDs online what i got after a month was cracked.....

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