Spanish music sales crashed 30.5% in retail terms in the first half of 2009, the leading labels' association Promusicae revealed today (Sept 16), acknowledging that "the Spanish music industry is facing the worst situation it has known during the last quarter of a century."

Total physical and digital recorded music sales totalled just €87.7 million ($129 million), compared to €126.2 million ($186 million) in the first half of 2008.

"The Spanish record sector continues in freefall, and at a rhythm even more vertiginous than the most pessimistic forecasts", said a statement from Promusicae, Spain's IFPI affiliate.

Physical sales slumped "by tragic dimensions" at 35.5%, according to Promusicae, at €67.7 million ($99.6 million) compared to €105 million ($154.5 million) in the same period last year.

Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola was especially gloomy about digital sales, even though online sales rose by a "timid" 68%, from €4.2 million ($6.2 million) between January to July last year to €7.1 million ($10.4 million) this year. "This is still a very modest amount," says Guisasola.

But far worse were mobile music sales, which crashed 37.4% from €10.2 million ($15 million) to €6.4 million ($9.4 million). "This drastic braking means that not even the business of tones and mobile downloads, which seemed promising at one point, has resisted the slide in this annus horribilis," Guisasola says.

He adds: "It is a joke to think that in the current situation in Spain there could exist a digital market similar to that in our neighboring countries."

Guisasola suggests that Spain is well behind France, Germany or the United Kingdom in taking action against piracy. Although those territories' music sectors are also still grappling with anti-piracy solutions, he says that the Spanish authorities have not yet even addressed the problem.

"Here, on the other hand, we continue to delay taking decisions and hope that somebody else sorts the problem out and we just carry on," says Guisasola. "For six years we have been warning of the problem and watching the systematic destruction of cultural creation in our country. The passivity of our public administrations and their tepidity in the matter means that every day that passes, the solution is more complex."

As a result of the sales slump, Promusicae has decided to lower the amount of album sales needed for gold and platinum discs. From this month, a gold disc qualification drops from 40,000 to 30,000, and a platinum disc will be awarded for 60,000 sales, down from 80,000.