The downturn in the German recorded music market is slowing. The estimated retail value of the market in 2004 was down 3.6% from the previous year to €1.589 billion ($2.12 billion), national la

The downturn in the German recorded music market is slowing.

The estimated retail value of the market in 2004 was down 3.6% from the previous year to €1.589 billion ($2.12 billion), national labels body BPW reports. Volume dropped 2.6% drop to 178.5 million units. This compares to declines of 19.8% in value and 18.18% in volume a year earlier.

Total album shipments slipped to 146.1 million units in 2004 from 149.2 million in 2003, says the BPW. CD albums remained constant at 133.1 million units; BPW did not break out the value of CD albums. Shipments of singles fell to 21.3 million units from 24.4 million units. Music DVD continued to grow, passing the 10 million unit mark for the first time in 2004.

Domestic repertoire was again a key factor in Germany. Home-grown artists accounted for a record 30.3% of album shipments, up from 29.5% in 2003. "The success of German artists is outstanding," Gerd Gebhardt, chairman of Berlin-based BPW, tells Billboard.biz. Local repertoire accounted for 51.5% of singles, down from 54.7%.

The BPW is also upbeat on the digital and mobile music market. Downloads generated €10 million ($13.34 million), about 0.7% of total sales. Ringtones contributed a similar sum.

Gebhardt says the overall market is projected to break even by the end of 2005 and return to growth in 2006.

The BPW has blamed widespread personal CD copying and illicit downloading for a dramatic downturn in the market in recent years. Based on data compiled by market research firm GfK, BPW estimates that consumers last year copied music onto 304 million CD-Rs and illegally downloaded 382 million tracks from the Internet.

"We have to fight against the illegal business with all the power we have," Gebhardt says.

The IFPI says Germany is the world's fifth-largest recorded music market; it was No. 3 in the late 1990s.

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