Net shipments of Latin music in the United States and Puerto Rico decreased 6% to 38.6 million units in 2003, according to figures released today (March 31) by the RIAA.

Net shipments of Latin music in the United States and Puerto Rico decreased 6% to 38.6 million units in 2003, according to figures released today (March 31) by the RIAA. The value of shipments fell 1% from 2002 to $535 million. However, the declines show a marked improvement from the turndown the Latin market has registered for the past three years.

"While we are encouraged that the rate of shipment decline in the Latin music market was not as dramatic as it was last year, it's clear we still have a lot of work to do," says Rafael Fernandez, VP of Latin music for the RIAA.

In 2002, net shipments of Latin music decreased by 15.6% compared to the previous year.

The slowdown in the decline can be attributed to several factors, including an RIAA program launched last year that specifically targets Latin music piracy.

According to the RIAA, Latin music accounts for a disproportionate amount of illegal music seizures. Last year, 33% of illegal music product seized by the RIAA was Latin, up from 24.5% in 2002. Likewise, seizures of illegal Latin music were up 40% in 2003 compared to 2002.

In a breakdown of Latin music by genre, regional Mexican (including Tejano) was by far the
biggest, accounting for 55% of all Latin shipments in dollar-value terms. Shipments of regional Mexican music were up 1%, making it the only Latin genre that registered growth.

In other genres, pop/rock accounted for 33% of Latin shipments, and tropical music made up 12%.

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