Global music sales up for the first time since 1999

The music industry breathes a collective sigh of relief as new figures reveal that global music sales have risen for the first time since 1999.
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It appears that music might survive the digital revolution after all. Earlier this week, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) announced that music sales have risen by 0.3%. This is the first time sales have been up since 1999, indicating that paid-for digital music downloads have finally caught up with the times.

‘It is hard to remember a year for the recording industry that has begun with such a palpable buzz in the air,’ chief executive of IFPI Frances Moore said in a statement.

‘These are hard-won successes for an industry that has innovated, battled and transformed itself over a decade. They show how the music industry has adapted to the internet world, learned how to meet the needs of consumers and monetised the digital marketplace.’

Apart from the rise of paid-for digital downloads, the IFPI also noted that subscription-based music services such as Rhapsody and Spotify had grown 44% in the last year, gaining 20 million users.

‘At the beginning of the digital revolution it was a common theme to say digital is killing music,’ president at Sony Music Entertainment Edgar Berger told Reuters. ‘Well the reality is, digital is saving music. I absolutely believe that this marks the start of a global growth story. The industry has every reason to be optimistic about its future.’

Despite the positivity in the air, some are warning that this does not mean that things won’t turn sour again for the industry, particularly as illegal music downloads continue to thrive in markets as large as Russia, China and India.

‘We’re probably near the bottom,’ Mark Mulligan of MIDiA consulting told Associated Press, ‘but it’s so marginal we could easily have another year or two where it could get worse.’

Moore also pointed to the work that has yet to be done, urging governments to take serious action against offenders and praising the action the US has taken against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom who has been accused of facilitating millions of illegal downloads.

‘Our markets remain rigged by illegal free music,’ Moore said according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald. ‘This is a problem where governments have a critical role to play, in particular by requiring more cooperation from advertisers, search engines, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and other intermediaries.’

As for the good news, The Hollywood Reporter suggests it’s the female artists in particular that we should be thanking for this sale rise. Artists like Adele, Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen were responsible for some of the biggest sellers of the year. Adele’s second album 21 sold the most copies at 8.3 million, despite being released in 2011, while Taylor Swift’s latest album offering Red has already sold 5.2 million since its October release. Jepsen took the crown for best selling digital single for Call Me Maybe, which sold 12.5 million copies. Australian artist Gotye overtook Psy’s Gangnam Style to reach second place on the digital single sales chart, selling 11.8 million copies of his Grammy-Award winning single Somebody That I Used to Know.

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