Despite a 17.4% fall in the wholesale value of shipments in 2007, the French record business is hopeful of positive movement in 2008.

At Midem, labels trade body SNEP announced that the trade value of all shipments had fallen to €712.9 million ($1.05 billion). According to SNEP director general Herve Rony, that means the French market has dropped almost 50% in value over the past five years.

Physical shipments declined 19.2% to €662 million ($979 million) in 2007, while digital sales rose 16.6% to 50.8 million Euros. Digital accounted for 7.4% of sales; Rony said that figure remains low due to the continuing high use of illegal peer-to-peer networks in France.

Acknowledging concerning results for 2007, Rony saw encouraging signs for 2008, including the launch of subscription services for unlimited quantities of music by several ISPs and mobile carriers in France. SNEP also expressed its confidence in recently-announced government-backed plans to fight online piracy, based on a report co-ordinated by Denis Olivennes, the CEO of France's leading music retailer, Fnac. Rony said he hoped the report’s various outlined measures should be effective by the end of the summer.

Snep is also hopeful of seeing a long-awaited fall in the V.A.T. (sales tax) rate on both physical and digital recorded music, the extension of the length of master rights protection, and the right for record companies to keep advertising their products on national state-owned TV channel France 2, despite French president Sarkozy's plans intention to ban advertising on the channel.

Snep’s wholesale market share figures, which do not include label sales from some non-member independent labels, gave Universal a 40.3% market share, followed by Sony BMG with 21.6%. EMI has a 16.3% share and Warner Music has 13.9%, while other companies make up 7.9%.

Snep has also announced it will launch a new chart later this year, which will combine both physical and digital sales.

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