Propelled by explosive growth in the legal music download market, total consumer expenditure on music, DVDs and games in Belgium last year rose 3.5% to €584 million ($761 million).

According to IFPI Belgium, the growth of digital sales and the success of local repertoire have partially neutralized the downward trend of the past five years.

The national IFPI body and the Belgian Video Federation (BVF) on Thursday (Feb. 8) reported a 90% year-on-year rise in revenue from downloads to €4.1 million ($5.2 million), as close to six million digital music files were purchased. The digital music business now accounts for 4.5% of the total amount in music purchased in Belgium.

Domestic artists played a hand in the healthy overall performance last year. Domestic artists Kate Ryan and Helmut Lotti scored the best-selling single and album with "Je t' Adore" (Minsu) and "The Crooners" (EMI) respectively.

Lotti, along with homegrown artists Laura Lynn, Axelle Red and Ozark Henry, accounted for four albums in the Ultratop International album chart Top 10. Domestic productions accounted for 15% of overall album sales in Belgium during the year.

The most downloaded Belgian recording artist in 2006 was Ozark Henry, who was awarded a special prize for "The Soft Machine" (Sony BMG). Belgian federal minister for the economy Marc Verwilghen was on hand to deliver the trophy.

"Respect for authors' rights is everybody's business", stated Verwilghen.