The European Commission on Wednesday (Nov. 15) published a report on the impact of culture in which it reveals the huge contribution of music to the European Union's economy, and its likely growth ove

The European Commission on Wednesday (Nov. 15) published a report on the impact of culture in which it reveals the huge contribution of music to the European Union's economy, and its likely growth over the next few years.

The 350-page report explains that the European recorded music market is currently worth $14 billion and is expected to grow annually by 7.2% to reach $20 billion in value by 2009. It says traditional physical formats will continue to decline at a rate of 1.9% until 2009. However, falling sales of CDs should be offset by the uptake of digital music.

Growth will be fuelled by two major factors. Firstly, licensed online download services are projected to be the fastest growing sector during the next few years, rising 91.3% annually until 2009 to total $2.2 billion, or 11% of total recorded music spending.

And secondly, mobile music. This format currently accounts for roughly 10% of the market, but will constitute nearly a third of total spending on recorded music in 2009, growing from $1.5 billion to $6.4 billion, according to the report. Uptake of mobile music download services will be bolstered by the diffusion of 3G wireless technology. Around 9% of wireless subscribers downloaded mobile music in 2004, but by 2009, the figure is expected to increase to 22%.

The report covered the entire cultural sector in the EU, which it said contributes to 2.6% of EU's GDP. The cultural sector employs at least 5.8 million Europeans -- more than the total employed in Greece and Ireland combined. The sector's revenue is estimated at more than $833 billion -- more than twice that of the car industry -- and its growth over the past five year was 12.3% higher than the growth of the European economy in general.