Digital Music Sales Triple Claims Record Industry

By Jon Newton 10/04/05

If you didn’t know better, you might believe it was a serious report. And be sure the mainstream media will take it as exactly that.

‘It’ is the latest Big Music cartel’s IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry) version of what’s happening in the world of online music .

“Digital sales triple to 6% of industry retail revenues as global music market falls 1.9%,” says the organization, owned by EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG. However, three times nothing equals nothing.

Jon Newton
“Booming demand for music on the internet and mobile phones nearly offset the decline in physical formats as recorded music sales fell 1.9% to a retail value of $US 13.2 billion in the first half of 2005, compared to $US 13.4 billion in the same period of 2004,” says the PR and enforcement unit.

And, "More and more people in a growing number of countries are turning to the new legal ways of downloading music on the internet or via mobile phones,” according to its boss, John Kennedy.

Yet the labels claim ad nauseum that they’re being ruined by file sharers and file sharing.

Only the IFPI (or, let’s be fair, the RIAA, BPI, CRIA, ARIA, JRIA, so on, and etc) would, or could, unblushingly describe sales of 500 million or so from a single source, Apple’s iTunes iPod loss-leader, as ‘booming’ while more and more people are logging on to the p2p networks, completely ignoring the efforts of its masters.

P2p research firm Big Champagne statistics (left) show the average number of people simultaneously logged onto the p2p networks around the world at any given time between August, 2003, and August, 2005. In 2003 in the US, the focus of the disingenuous RIAA hype, 2,630,960 people were logged on at any moment, in 2004 the figure was 4,549,801, and in August 2005, it was 6,871,308.

There are no similar figures available to support the IFPI’s claims. But you can be 100% sure they wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans.

So how is it possible for the admittedly BS organization to publicly state that corporate music sales are booming?

It’s all explained a little further on.

The IFPI is making the numbers up as it goes along.

“IFPI has estimated [our emphasis] the retail value of the digital music market in order to be consistent with its reporting of physical sales, and to allow year-on-year comparisons,” it says.

Ahhh. Estimated.

And, “On that basis, digital music sales in the period amounted to approximately $US 790 million, up from $US 220 million in the first half of 20041. This is the equivalent of 6% of total record industry sales.”

“On that basis” and “the equivalent of”. Hmmmm

“The surge in digital music sales is being driven by the growing uptake of broadband, increasing penetration of 3G mobile phones and portable music players, and a series of successful launches of new music services in different countries over the past year,” says the IFPI

It might be correct, or almost correct, about the mobiles, but to say there’s been “a series of successful launches of new music services in different countries over the past year” is sheer, unadultrated baloney.

iTunes has indeed opened in various countries, with Napster trailing sadly along behind. But that’s the extent of it and once again, by no stretch of the imagination - even the IFPI’s - could this be called “booming” or “succesful”.

And in yet another entirely disingenuous statement, “our actions to contain internet piracy, whether by education or by litigation, are working,” says Kennedy.

To the contrary, the cartel’s the international sue ‘em all marketing campaign is succeeding only in bringing appalling distress to a tiny handful of people who come nowhere near to representing the file sharers the labels claim are causing so much "devastation".

And every day, more and more people log on to the p2p networks for their music fixes.

In the meanwhile, “There is a long way to go - digital and physical piracy remain a big threat to our business in many markets,” says the IFPI.

“Our industry's priorities are to further grow this emerging digital music business while stepping up our efforts to protect it from copyright theft."

Go here for the full monty.

The cartel's RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is currently being sued under America's RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act for fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of "outrage", and deceptive business practices.


Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


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