Digital music sales volumes in Japan continued to decline in the third quarter -- but an overall year-on-year increase in value was maintained thanks to a rise in the number of full track downloads sold.

According to figures released by the Record Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), 117.4 million digital units were sold in the July-Sept. quarter of 2009 -- a 1% drop in unit sales from the same quarter a year previously.

Despite the 1% drop in volume, however, the overall value of digital music sales in the quarter increased 4% to 23 billion yen ($265.5 million). That rise in value reflects an increase in the number of full track downloads sold, both mobile and PC-based.

PC-based downloads continued to climb in line with significant growths reported during quarters one and two. Total PC downloads for the July-Sept. period amounted to 12 million units, up 14% from a year earlier and representing a value of 2.6 billion yen ($30 million) -- a 15% rise on the same period last year.

Boosted by a sales push from major mobile music stores like Reco Choku, third-quarter sales for 2009 saw 36.8 million mobile-based full track units sold, a year-on-year rise of 6%, with a value of 12.7 billion yen ($146.6 million) -- up 9% from the same quarter last year.

Sales of ringback tones also saw healthy growth with 28 million units sold during Q3, 7% up on the same period last year. In value terms, that amounted to 2.5 billion yen ($28.8 million), up 10% from Q3 2008.

Overall, mobile music sales fell 2% in the third quarter to 105.4 million units. That, nonetheless, represented a value of 20 billion yen ($232.9 million), up 2% on the corresponding period last year. Mobile master ringtone sales experienced a 12% drop to 38.4 million units. That represented value of 3.9 billion yen ($45 million), down 17% from a year earlier.

In the first nine months of the year, total digital music sales dropped 2% in volume when compared to the corresponding period in 2008, although value rose 1% to 67.6 billion yen ($780.5 million).

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