Worldwide music sales climb 15%

U.S. accounted for 40% of total, Brits buying mini-discs

Worldwide music sales climbed 1.5% to $38.5 billion in 1999, according to the annual report from the Int’l Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Volume, however, remained unchanged at 3.8 billion units.

The industry’s sweetest notes were sounded in the United States — the world’s largest music market, accounting for 40% of the total -— which experienced its fifth straight year of growth in ’99, posting an 8% rise in value and a 5% increase in units with online sales making up 2.4% of the total.

Europe flat

While Britain — the third-largest market with 7.6% — posted a 4% increase in value, thanks to a comeback in singles, overall European 1999 sales were flat.

The sour notes came from Japan — the second-largest music market with 17% of the total — where the continuing weakness of the economy contributed to a 7% drop in value and an 11% decline in unit sales in 1999.

Latin America, particularly Brazil, was hard-hit by music piracy, and posted a 5% decline in total sales. Nevertheless, the 1999 U.S. gains managed to offset these losses. Stripping out the effects of the dollar, global music sales were up a scant 0.7%.

CD’s tops

Meanwhile, CDs continued to replace cassettes. Worldwide CD sales rose 3% to 2.4 billion units in 1999 and now account for 65% of all units sold.

Although sales of cassettes, LPs and singles all declined, worldwide sales of mini-discs increased to a million units — with half of those sold in Britain.

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