Thirty of Spain's top-selling Spanish artists in 2008 received their gold disc awards at the inaugural Night of Music party organised by labels' association Promusicae. The Night of Music in a central Madrid venue replaced the Premios Amigo gala, which was held last year for the first time after a five-year suspension in protest at Spain's music piracy problem.

Among those present at the 'fiesta' was John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of the IFPI. He said Spain remained the only Top 10 market among the Top 10 worst piracy offenders, even though the problem is now mainly digital, and not so much physical piracy.

"I understand that not one new artist has figured in the Top 20 chart lists this year in Spain, and that can only be put down to piracy", Kennedy says. Legal download sales represent just 10% of the music market in Spain, compared to an average of about 20% in Europe and 39% in the United States, hw adds.

But Kennedy continues, "After speaking to some industry and government people during my visit here this week, I think there will be improvements in Spain in 2009."

Gold discs are awarded by IFPI-affiliate Promusicae for 40,000 physical sales and 10,000 legal digital sales. Some 150 records have won gold status this year in Spain, including international and Latin artists.

Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola criticises the Spanish government and legal system for not doing enough to help combat piracy. "It's really a question of passiveness," he says. "The [Spanish] music industry has done its homework and adapted to the demands of new times, offering records and songs in all the new formats and platforms. The same cannot be said of the government, the Parliament or the judges".

Guisasola predicts that this "passiveness" will in part lead to some 2 billion illegal downloads in 2008, compared to about 2 million legal downloads.

Promusicae figures show that in 2001 in Spain, fans spent €626 million ($813 million) on record sales, but this figure had fallen by 59% to €257 million ($334 million) in 2007. In unit terms, the total figure fell from 73 million to 31 million, down 57%.

Among the artists and groups that received their gold discs in person were Dover, Merche, Kiko & Shara, Bimba Bosé, Mojinos Escozíos, David de Maria, El Arrebato, Conchita, Carlos Baute, Sergio Dalma, Melendi, Estopa and Pitingo. The only live performance was by new flamenco-pop singer, Pitingo.

Neither the Amigo gala nor this year's Nov. 27 fiesta were televised.