The decline in the German music business is slowing. National labels body BPW will report tomorrow (Aug. 12) that overall volume shipments contracted by 2.9% in the first half of 2004, compared to a 1

The decline in the German music business is slowing. National labels body BPW will report tomorrow (Aug. 12) that overall volume shipments contracted by 2.9% in the first half of 2004, compared to a 16.3% drop in the same period in 2003.

"This was a substantially slower rate of decline than any time in the past three years," says Gerd Gebhardt, chairman of BPW and the local IFPI affiliate.

Gebhardt attributes the improvement to a strong performance by domestic repertoire, combined with the industry's efforts to clamp down on illegal file-sharing.

A total of 55.1 million CDs were shipped in the first half of the year, down 1.4% from the corresponding period last year, according to BPW. Shipments of music DVDs rose 60% during the period to 4 million units. Singles declined 9% to 12.1 million units, and pre-recorded cassettes contracted by 19.2% to 5.9 million.

Although the BPW did not release revenue figures, industry sources say they shrank by 5% during the period. Observers were upbeat, as shipments were up in March and June in Germany for the first time in four years. Signs of growth are continuing through July.

"We will probably see the year 2004 out with a slight drop in revenues," comments Gebhardt. "Even so, we are a good deal more optimistic than we were in the previous three years in which the music industry as a whole shed roughly 40% of its revenues. In the medium-term, the outlook looks good."

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