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Music shipments down despite legal downloads rise
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Legal music downloads more than doubled in the first half of the year, but total music shipments dipped slightly, reversing last year’s rising trend, amid fresh concerns over Web piracy, a record group said on Monday.
The Recording Industry Association of America said 343.9 million CDs, DVDs, cassettes or digital downloads were shipped to consumer outlets, down 2.4 percent from a year earlier.
Legal downloads of digital music files rose sharply in the first six months with 148.7 million digital singles downloaded, or nearly 2.5 times the 58.6 million songs last year. The estimated value of the digital singles and albums shipped in 2005’s first half was $198 million compared with $73 million in the same period one year ago.
But shipments of CDs and other physical products fell by 5.8 percent. The value of those shipped products fell to $4.78 billion from $5.05 billion last year, and the RIAA blamed illegal file-sharing, unauthorized copying and traditional counterfeiting for the decline.
“Even as we continue to transform ourselves and transition to the digital marketplace, the music community is still suffering enormously from the impact of various forms of music theft,” said Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the RIAA.
The decline is a sharp contrast to the first half of 2004 when CDs and other audio and video music products rose by 8.5 percent to 289 million units from 267 million in 2003.
Last year was the first since 2000 in which full-length CD shipments rose from the year before.
The music industry had been battered in recent years by slow sales of CDs as consumers turned to computer networks and downloaded illegal copies of digital songs.
But Web sites offering legal copies of songs have grown in prominence with the popularity of portable music players like Apple Computer Inc’s iPod. Their rising use has helped boost the use of computer networks offering legal downloads.