Pricing, margins hurt revenues.

Despite a rise in units sold, French exports of music dramatically dropped in value in 2003.

According to statistics unveiled yesterday (Jan. 24) at Midem by the French Music Export Office, units of French repertoire shipped abroad reached 42.6 million in 2003, up 28.5% on the previous year. However, due to pressure on margins and wholesale prices, overall revenues from
shipments of finished goods and licensing of repertoire dropped 21.7% year-on-year to €57.7 million ($74.78 million).

Revenues from exports reached €32.3 million ($41.86 million) in 2003, down from €36.9 million ($47.82 million) in 2002; licensing revenues dropped to €25.3 million ($32.78 million) from €36.7 million ($47.56 million).

The FMEO compiles export statistics with a one-year gap in order to incorporate revenues from licensing.

The rise in unit volume sold is due mainly to catalog exploitation by the labels, says FMEO director Jean-Francois Michel. "On the positive side, there's been a lot of activity, especially with catalog, but these are small-margin products," he says.

Michel says export remains a priority for all record companies, especially indies.

Europe is the main market for French product, accounting for 80% of exports in 2003. Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany were the three top territories. North America accounted for 8.4% of exports.

The best-selling French albums for 2003 include Air's "Talkie Walkie" (Virgin), Phoenix's "Alphabetical" (Source), Jean-Michel Jarre's "Aero" (Warner) and Corneille's "Parcequ'on Vient de Loin" (Wagram).