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Latin CD tempo slows

Shipments down by 14% last year to just over $550 mil

Shipments of Latin music sank by almost 16% in 2002 from the prior year, according to data released Wednesday by the Recording Industry Assn. of America, which placed the blame squarely on that familiar industry bugaboo, digital piracy.

The RIAA said shipments slipped to 41 million in unit terms from almost 49 million in 2001. On a dollar-value basis, the shipments were down by 14% last year to just over $550 million. Shipments in the CD format, which makes up the bulk of the Latin music sold in the U.S., declined by 8% to less than 39 million units.

Shipped music doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount of music sold to consumers in a given period. There can be delays between the time product is shipped and when it is sold, and music shipped is subject to returns from the retailer.

Along with digital piracy in the form of copied CDs and online file-sharing on services like Kazaa and Morpheus, the industry said a flagging economy bit into Latin shipments, as it has in the rest of the music market.

One encouraging area for the industry was the musicvideo/DVD category. Shipments of Latin-themed DVDs were up more than seven-fold to 280,000 units, while VHS-format vids nearly doubled to 40,000 copies last year.

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