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More Latin CDs spun

Sales up 1.7%, offering biz a place in the sun

One of the lone bright spots for the music industry in 2003 appears to be an increase in shipments of Latin music CDs, which have risen 1.7% in the first six months of the year, the Recording Industry Assn. of America reported Friday.

The big picture remains cloudy, however. Due to falloff of the cassette format, shipments of Latin music in all configurations to retail, direct and special markets decreased 4.6% to 18 million units compared to 18.9 million a year earlier.

At mid-year, 17.6 million CDs of Latin recordings have been shipped, compared with 17.3 million in 2002. Latin music is defined as product that is 51% or more in the Spanish language.

The RIAA tracks shipments of recorded music but not sales. In 1999, the RIAA began researching the Latin market. For the latest report, it used data from BMG U.S. Latin; EMI Latin; Sony Discos; Universal Music Group, including Univision Music Group; and Warner Music Latina.

Net shipments of DVD musicvideos rose 58.3%.

Hopes of an improved second half in the U.S. Latin music market rests with new releases from Sin Bandera, Cristian Castro, Luis Fonsi, Juan Gabriel, Julio Iglesias, Luis Miguel, Banda El Recodo, Alejandro Sanz, Thalia and Carlos Vives.

Broken down by genre, regional Mexican, which includes tejano, made up 66% of all Latin shipments in terms of dollar value. Pop, which includes rock, contributed 26% and the tropical genre accounted for 8%.

The RIAA’s coverage of the U.S. Latin music market is estimated at 80%-90%. One element of caution: The Latin music market has consistently been a ripe target for pirates.

“Our anti-piracy unit’s stepped-up efforts during the first six months of 2003 have netted 200% more counterfeit and pirate music CDs than last year, the majority of which was Latin music,” said Rafael Fernandez, RIAA veepee of Latin music.

“This success is significant because, in an increasing number of cases, pirated Latin music is illegally pressed in plants instead of copied onto blank CD-Rs.”

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