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RIAA: Music Shipments Up in 2004
March 23, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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The RIAA released its end of year statistics for 2004, and things continue to look mediocre. According to the RIAA, which represents all of the major music cartels and 90% of all music released, the number of CDs shipped (from record companies to retail outlets) in the United States rose 5.3% in 2004. This represents a 2.7% increase in value from 2003. Although CD shipments are up, there is limited optimism within the RIAA.

According to the RIAA, piracy continues to hamper their business model – whether online or physical piracy. While shipments are up, the total number of overall units shipped has fallen since 1999.

“When compared to year-end numbers five years ago, the number of overall units shipped to retail in 2004 is down 21 percent. According to Soundscan, the top 100 albums, often the most heavily pirated, sold 194.9 million units in 1999, compared to 153.3 million units in 2004 (the 2004 numbers do represent a slight increase over 2003 --146.8 million units sold for the top 100 albums in that year).”

The ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) has followed a similar pattern, as the number of albums and singles released has declined by 35%. However, the Australian music industry’s situation is considerably more dramatic as decline occurred over the course of only one year.

Although the RIAA continues to exist on shaky ground, there was a bit of optimism expressed by RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol. The music industry did gain ground in two critical areas, DVD music sales and online music service sales.

According to the RIAA’s press release, DVD music shipments increased by a remarkable 66%, while their value (list price) increased by 51.8%. In addition, just fewer than 140 million online music tracks were sold in 2004.

While these may be encouraging numbers to the RIAA, in the grand scheme of things they represent a very small piece of the pie. DVD music sales only represent 5% of the total market. In addition, while 140 million digital music tracks may sound impressive, it is insignificant compared to the free for all taking place on P2P networks. Some estimates conclude that over 1 billion files per month are exchanged in the P2P community. Needless to say, the RIAA has some catching up to do.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

You can read the RIAA's press release here.

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