U.S. music market sings

Japan sales fall 7%, U.K. surges 4%

LONDON — The U.S. music market remained at the top of the charts in both growth and sales in 1999, up 8% to $14.25 billion.

In fact, of the top five markets, only the U.S. and the U.K. showed growth when calculated in local currency, according to new statistics from worldwide record industry org IFPI.

Americans also bought the most music, 3.9 units each in the year, followed by the Brits at 3.8. The Germans were next highest at 3.1.

The global market was up 1% on 1998 to $38.5 billion. Total units sold was flat at 3.8 billion, but CD sales increased 3%.

Sales in Japan, the second biggest market, fell 7%. The U.K. usurped Germany’s No. 3 position, up 4%, pushing Germany, with sales down 2%, into the fourth spot.

France, down 4%, held steady at No. 5, and Canada, down 9%, still passed Brazil, down a whopping 43%, to reach No. 6. Australia, up 5%, jumped two spots to reach No. 8, and Spain, with 4% growth, dropped to No. 9.

Appearing for the first time in the top 10 was Mexico — despite a 30% fall in sales.

Increasingly local biz

Although some markets with poor results saw their totals improved when converted to U.S. dollars — Japan, for example, was up $400 million — local currency figures best reflect consumer interest in music, an interest that is increasingly local.

Local repertoire repped two-thirds of all music sold in 1999, 8% higher than at the beginning of the 1990s and 2% over 1998.

That said, the big worldwide sellers of the year were predictably familiar.

The top four U.S. albums, the Backstreet Boys’ “Millennium,” Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time,” Ricky Martin’s eponymous effort and Shania Twain’s “Come on Over,” were prominent on the international charts.

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