In an attempt to revive France's declining singles market, some leading labels have decided to lower the price of singles by about 25%.

In an attempt to revive France's declining singles market, some leading labels have decided to lower the price of singles by about 25%.

The strategy cuts suggested retail price to €3.99 ($5). French consumers previously paid €5.20-€5.35 ($6.56-$6.75) for a single.

Sony Music France on Oct. 11 became the first label to implement the strategy; the French affiliates of Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI followed suit Oct. 18. Wagram, France's leading independent distributor, has also confirmed that it will lower its singles prices.

Universal Music France CEO Pascal Nègre says the move is meant to be a "strong message ... to young people sometimes tempted by illegal downloads."

French labels body SNEP says singles shipments fell 30% in the first nine months of 2004, contributing to a 19% drop in the recorded music market to 589 million €. In volume terms, the overall market fell 17.4% to 85.3 million units.

Industry leaders insist there is still life in singles. "I don't think the format is dead," Warner Music France CEO Thierry Chassagne tells Billboard.biz. "This drop will help us increase volumes."

However, Rodolphe Buet, music division director for retailer Fnac, remains skeptical. "There will always be a singles market for occasional buyers. As for music fans, they will evolve toward digital downloads."