The IFPI has warned that music markets in Spain, France and Brazil are "suffering acutely" from piracy, as it issued its annual Digital Music Report for 2010.
The music industry's global trade body had more positive news on digital growth, with global download single track sales up by an estimated 10% to 1.5 billion units in 2009 compared to 2008, and digital albums up by 20% in volume.
Overall, though, the global recorded music trade revenue for 2009 is estimated at around $15.8 billion, a fall of 10% on the previous year. The estimates are based on figures for the first half of 2009 compared on a constant currency basis with 2008; final IFPI data will be issued in the summer.
Global digital music trade revenues totaled $4.2 billion in 2009, an increase of 12% on the previous year - down from the 25% digital growth recorded in 2008. Digital now accounts for 27% of music industry trade revenues. Over five years since 2004, digital sales grew by 940% but the overall music market fell by 30%.
At a press briefing in London today (Jan. 21), IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy warned that piracy is still a major problem and is rampant in some territories.
Spain has a "state-tolerated apathy towards illegal file-sharing" according to the report, making it the worst country for piracy in Europe. Unit sales of Spanish artist albums slumped by an estimated 65% between 2004 and 2009 and the recorded music market fell by an estimated 17% in 2009.
"I think Spain runs the risk of turning into a cultural desert," said Rob Wells, SVP, digital at Universal Music Group International. "Spain as a territory used to export vast quantities of domestic repertoire into Latin America.
"I think it's a real shame that people in authority don't see the damage being done not on a commercial basis, but on a cultural basis within their territory. From a sense of national pride I think it's appalling. Drastic action has to be taken to save the Spanish industry."
Kennedy agreed, stating that Spanish music companies can no longer invest in local talent and be sure of getting a viable return on the investment to then launch the act in Latin America.
French industry trade figures are due to be released in the coming week, but the IFPI said the impact of piracy is clear, with 103 local artist albums released in the first half of 2009, a fall of 60% in the same period in 2003. In Brazil, music sales fell by 43% between 2005 and 2009, and in 2008 there were only 67 full-priced local artist releases by the five major companies in Brazil, compared to 625 in 1998.
"Much more urgency is needed [by governments]," said Kennedy. "Piracy is a massive disincentive to invest in the market. When they [politicians] do engage [with legislation], we've seen in Sweden, Taiwan and Korea that when new laws come in it makes a difference, and that would be our message for 2010."
Indeed, advance publicity surrounding the South Korean graduated response scheme, introduced in July 2009, had an immediate impact. Music sales increased by 18% overall last year, with digital sales up 32%, according to the IFPI report.
"We are doing all we can to cater for an increasing need to consume music by consumers who want music from a legitimate source," said Wells.
Wells cited the success of Spotify, which he says has 250,000 premium subscribers worldwide in addition to consumers using the free service, and a successful launch for Sky Songs, while Universal's own Monkey U.K. digital service in partnership with Orange and Channel 4 has signed up 110,000 users over the first six months.
"If we had legislation to protect us from illegal activity then the growth and expansion could happen at a much faster rate," added Wells.
"I think it will get through, it's very, very important to all the creative industries that it gets through," Kennedy said of the anti-piracy measures currently being debated in the U.K. parliament. "In the main, I'm encouraged that it hasn't been subject to party politics."
Sweden's music market was also boosted by a new copyright law, and there was much attention given to the legal victory against the Pirate Bay. The music market was up more than 10% by trade value in 2009 - a 98.6% increase in the digital market and a 1.9% increase in physical sales, according to the IFPI.
The IFPI said five markets actually increased physical sales in 2009 - South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Poland and Malaysia.
The best-selling track of 2009 was "Poker Face" (Interscope/Universal) by Lady Gaga, with total unit sales of 9.8 million. There are now 11 million tracks available from 400 digital services in 60 countries - although this is down from 500 services that were operating in recent years.
Global mobile music revenues actually fell in 2009 - the IFPI did not publish a figure - according to the report, because of "piracy, lack of operator support for music services in some markets and saturation of the mastertones sector."
Kennedy added that he was outraged by a U.K. court's decision to acquit the man behind the Oink file-sharing Web site last week (Billboard.biz, Jan. 15).
"I cannot sleep at night while that man has still got £200,000 [$324,000] sitting in his bank account, so we will find other ways of going about it, if it has to be civil proceedings," said Kennedy.