The Australian recorded music market during the first-half of 2005 fell by 11.82% year-on-year for a wholesale value of A$209 million ($161 million), according to figures issued today (Sept. 12) by th

The Australian recorded music market during the first-half of 2005 fell by 11.82% year-on-year for a wholesale value of A$209 million ($161 million), according to figures issued today (Sept. 12) by the Australian Record Industry Assn. In volume terms, the market in the six months to June 30 was down to 22.7 million units, 7.54% behind the corresponding period last year.

A market drop was registered across all formats, including music DVDs. ARIA attributes the DVD decline to the market's maturity.

Digital music sales, which include the fast growing sales of "master ringtones," are not included in the figures. ARIA explains that it does not yet have "comprehensive information regarding the value and volume of the digital music market" but is expected to publish full-year digital sales in March 2006.

Record label executives tell Billboard.biz are upbeat on the first-half figures. George Ash, managing director of Universal Music Australia tells Billboard.biz, "The growth in mobile revenue and the impact from new download services will grow the digital sector significantly next year."

Ash also points out that unit numbers for the hits have increased. "I never like to see a decline in the overall market but the message for me is that we need to sit down with our artists and ensure we make music and market our artists music in a way that makes fans want to buy it," Ash adds.

Record labels expect the second half of 2005 to be more positive, with a stronger release schedule of recordings from international and domestic acts. July and August sales showed an up-turn, ARIA reports.

Local repertoire continued to prove buoyant. Aussie singles represented 25% of the Top 100 singles, up from 21% in the corresponding period in 2004. However, Australian albums fell to 23% from last year's bumper volume of 31%.

Ed St. John, president of Warner Music Australia says "many new Australian artists came through this year, most of whom already had strong live followings."

ARIA also attributes unusually low sales in January and February to the millions of dollars donated by Australians to charities in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.