The German record market fell 19.8% in value during 2003 to €1.65 billion, according to national labels body BPW. Figures released today (March 30) show the 2003 trade value of shipments is low

The German record market fell 19.8% in value during 2003 to €1.65 billion, according to national labels body BPW. Figures released today (March 30) show the 2003 trade value of shipments is lower than that of 1989. "All told, revenues in the industry have plummeted by almost 40% since 1997," says BPW chairman Gerd Gebhardt.

For the first time, the industry figures take into account the burgeoning music DVD and video sector. Excluding music DVD/video, the recorded music industry contracted 21.3% in value.

During 2003, German shipments totaled 183.2 million units, down from 223.9 million the previous year. Shipments of albums numbered 133.6 million units, down from 166.8 million in 2002. Singles shipments fell 32.8% to 24.4 million units.

A review of trends over the past six years indicates a steady decline of per-capita music sales. That figure stood at €19.98 in 2003; it's the first time in the period that per-capita sales dropped below the €20 mark. Two pre-recorded music products per capita were bought on average, compared with four blank CD-Rs.

A BPW-commissioned study conducted by research company GfK estimates that 26.6 million people made 714 million CD copies in Germany in 2003. In 2002, 25 million people made 515 million copies. Roughly 90% of consumers who own a CD-burner use it to copy music, according to the survey.

The GfK study also claims that 7.3 million Germans downloaded 602 million songs last year, mostly from illegal sources on the Internet. This compares with 6.4 million people and 622 million downloads in 2002.

Users who burned music onto CDs were found to have spent 16% less money on music in 2003 than during the previous year. Those downloading music from the Internet spent 25% less year-on-year.

"The economic consequences are being felt by the creative music scene, of course, as the music industry is the greatest investor in music creativity and the most important source of income for artists," says Gebhardt, adding "the government is losing tax revenue of several hundreds of millions of euros each year."

In 2003, record companies in Germany let go about 1,200 staffers, according to BPW, with a further 1,600 jobs lost in the retail sector. The trade body estimates some 6,000 music-industry jobs have been shed over the past three years.

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