Latin music antipiracy efforts pay off

U.S. shipments of CDs to retail outlets slip 2.5% in 2003

The red-hot Latin music business is still feeling the CD sales squeeze, but antipiracy efforts are starting to pinch, according to figures released Wednesday by the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

The body said net U.S. shipments of Latin music CDs from record companies to retail outlets slipped 2.5% in 2003, though dollar value was down only 1%. Shipments of all Latin music products (including videos, DVDs and cassettes) dropped 6% last year. That’s down from the 15.6% decline registered in 2002.

The RIAA noted that the industry’s “increased focus on addressing Latin music piracy around the country” meant the decline was actually less than in previous years. In 2002, Latin music CD shipments were down 8% over the prior year.

“While we are encouraged that the rate of shipment decline in the Latin music market was not as dramatic as it was last year, it’s clear we still have a lot of work to do,” said Rafael Fernandez, VP of Latin music for the RIAA. He said Latin music piracy remains a large problem at retail outlets and flea markets in the U.S.

RIAA said Latin music CDs represented a third of all illegal music copies (or 1.98 million copies) seized in antipiracy raids last year, up from 24.5% in 2002. The largest impact was seen on the West Coast, where 62% of all antipiracy seizures were of discs in the Latin music genre.

Regional Mexican music comprised 55% of all Latin shipments in terms of dollar value last year. Pop, which includes rock, accounted for 33% of all Latin shipments, and the tropical genre accounted for 12% of all Latin shipments.

Numbers are based on figures reported by BMG U.S. Latin, EMI Music U.S. Latin, Univision Music Group, Sony Discos, Universal Music Latino and Warner Music Latina.

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