The French recorded music market went up 4.1% in trade value for the first half of 2010 to €239.3 million ($305.1 million), labels body Snep revealed today (Sept. 8) in a press conference in Paris.

The physical market went up 2.5% in value to €196.4 million ($250.4 million) compared to the first half of 2009: the 2% decline on albums and 3.8% drop on singles was more than compensated by a 53.2% surge in sales of music videos to €23.9 million ($30.5 million). Snep VP and EMI France CEO Olivier de Montfort attributed the huge value increase to strong music DVD releases from U2 ("U2 360° At The Rose Bowl"), Mylène Farmer and Johnny Hallyday as well as the musical "Cleopatre."

There has also been an aggressive pricing strategy on back catalog music video by labels, following the example of the film industry.

The digital market went up 12% compared to the first six months of 2009 to €42.9 million ($54.7 million), now accounting for 18% of the recorded music market. Internet downloads were up 39%, with a 47.2% rise on album downloads. "This is a very strong signal that the market is moving from a physical to a digital one," said Montfort.

Revenue from streaming and subscription services went up 16.2% to €11.5 million ($14.7 million), while the ringtone market continued to decline. It was down 9.1% on the prior six months to €3 million ($3.8 million).

Downloads now represent 66% of the digital market with a six-month sales value of €28.3 million ($36.1 million).

"The download market is growing faster [than other digital services]", stressed Snep President and Believe Digital CEO Denis Ladegaillerie. "This is a very good news, since it is the most important in terms of revenue [for record labels in the digital market]."

This is the second six months in a row with positive figures, according to Snep growth market figures. However, a controversy has been going for months with GfK/L'observatoire de la Musique, which provides retail market figures. They were significantly different, with a 6.5% drop year on year in the first half of 2010 for physical sales. "We are talking with GfK to try and understand were the difference comes from," said Ladegaillerie.

The positive Snep results were announced while the mission led by Emmanuel Hoog on a potential collective licensing scheme on the Internet is still at work. The government has initiated this mission after the conclusions of the Zelnik mission, also ordered by the government at the end of 2009.

"We producers will never accept that our rights be handled under a compulsory collective licensing regime," reiterated Snep director general David El-Sayegh. According to the body, there is no point in imposing a collective scheme when the market is growing. The body called for a lower VAT (sales tax) rate on digital music sales, to enable digital platform to get satisfactory margins.

Snep expressed its hopes for an ongoing market stabilization in the second half of 2010, notably with the implementation of the Hadopi three-strikes system - which is at work, but has yet to file the first warnings - and the long-awaited state-subsidized Music Card, which will allow cheaper access to digital music for young consumers and should be launched by the end of October.

"There are positive signals, the days of a major restructuring of the market are now behind us," said Montfort.