The total financial worth of the Italian music industry in 2009 was placed at €3.7 billion ($5.1 billion) - a 9% decline on the previous year -- according to a report produced by an Italian university in association with collecting societies SIAE, SCF and publishers trade body FEM.

The report was produced by Milan-based university Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione (IULM), and took into account physical sales, digital and live, as well as revenue generated from the sale of musical instruments, music-playing hardware/audio equipment and the total value of the country's radio industry.

According to the report, physical music sales generated turnover at retail of €375 million (518.2 million) in 2009, a drop of 25% from the previous year.

According to the IFPI, based on figures supplied by its Italian affiliate FIMI, the trade value worth of recorded music sales in Italy in 2009 was €181.5 million (then $252 million) -- a 17.4% decline on the previous year. Physical sales accounted for €137.8 million ($191.3 million) and digital sales in Italy in 2009 amounted to €24.3 million ($33.7 million).

IULM professor Luca Barbarito, who presented the report's finding's in Milan yesterday (Oct. 26), identified growth of 13% in the digital market with online sales generating €44 million ($60.8 million) in 2009.

He did, however, note that despite the growth in sales revenue, the market remained "a tenth the size of the British market and a fifth of the French and German markets."

The IULM report said Italy's live music industry was worth €781 ($1.07 billion) in 2009, an increase of 3% with respect to 2008. Barbarito cited an increase in ticket prices as a key factor in the sector's growth.

Despite Barbarito's bullish assessment that Italy's music industry was "holding its ground," Claudio Buja, managing director of Italian publisher Universal Music Ricordi Publishing, noted that the French music industry, "which has reported growth for the last four quarters, is clearly doing better."

"This is not because their industry is better than ours, but because their politicians actually help it. Politics in Italy is, across the spectrum, pure demagoguery," Buja went on to say.

"When you have a government minister who publicly admits to downloading music for free, what hope is there?" he continued, referring to a recent admission from Roberto Maroni, Minister for the Interior.

"We need legislation that will help the music industry and we need responsible politicians who aren't scared of the electorate," Buja concluded.

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