Specialty retailers' share of the music market continued to erode last year, while digital-music downloads and new consumer formats showed small incremental growth, according to the RIAA's 2003 consum

Specialty retailers' share of the music market continued to erode last year, while digital-music downloads and new consumer formats showed small incremental growth, according to the RIAA's 2003 consumer survey.

The dollar value for record shipments in the U.S. plunged to $11.8 billion in 2003, from $12.6 billion the previous year.

Purchases at music retail stores accounted for 33.2% of all purchases last year, down from 36.8% in 2002. Non-music outlets -- mass merchants, discounters, electronics and book stores, and others -- accounted for 52.8% of sales in 2003, up from 50.7 in 2003. Internet sales (excluding record-club purchases on the Web) took 5% of sales overall, an increase from 3.4% the previous year.

Among consumer formats, digital downloads crept up to 1.3% of total sales, climbing from 0.5% in 2002. DVD Audio represented 2.7% of the market (up from 1.3%); in the first year the format was tracked, SACD took a 0.5% share. While still the dominant format, full-length CDs showed a slight decline, from 90.5% in 2002 to 87.8% last year.

Sales among older consumers continued to grow: 26.6% of total purchases in 2003 were made by those 45 years old and up. The 35-plus demographic accounted for 47.8% of all sales.

At the same time, the market share of younger listeners slid further: 10-to-24-year-old consumers accounted for 30% of purchases last year, versus 33.7% the previous year.

Rock remained the preeminent music genre in 2003, accounting for 25.2% of all sales, followed by rap/hip-hop (13.3%), R&B/urban (10.6%) and country (10.4%).

The RIAA survey is conducted by Peter Hart Research and is based on a survey of more than 2,900 consumers.