February 26, 2013 7:39 am

Music sales up for the first time since 1999


TORONTO – Music sales are up for the first time in 13 years and fewer people are downloading music illegally, according to two reports released Tuesday.

The increase in sales is tiny – only 0.3 per cent – but it offers a glimmer of hope to an industry battered by digital technology.

“It is hard to remember a year that has begun with such a palpable buzz in the air,” said Frances Moore, chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), in a release. “The music industry has adapted to the Internet world, learned how to meet the needs of consumers and monetized the digital marketplace.”

According to the IFPI’s annual Digital Music Report, global recorded music revenues hit $16.5 billion in 2012, the first year of growth since 1999.

Digital revenues, which account for 34 per cent of all revenues, increased by an estimated nine per cent to $5.6 billion.

The volume of download sales increased by 12 per cent in 2012.

The NPD Group’s Annual Music Study, also released Tuesday, shows a “significant” decrease in peer-to-peer (p2p) music downloads in 2012. Only 11 per cent of Internet users over 13 years of age got their music from file sharing services, a decrease of 17 per cent over the previous year.

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The study, based on U.S. consumer surveys, also found the number of music files ripped from CDs owned by friends and family fell 44 per cent and the number of files swapped from hard drives decreased by 25 per cent.

“For the music industry, which has been battling digital piracy for over a decade, last year was a year of progress,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in a release.

Music streaming services like Songza are being partly credited with the decrease in illegal downloads. Legal action by the recording industry to shut down p2p sites like Limewire is also a key factor.

According to the IFPI report, Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen topped the sales charts in 2012 by selling 12.5 million copies of her single “Call Me Maybe.”

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