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Music mart set to sing the blues as CD sales continue freefall

Music mart set to sing the blues as CD sales continue freefall
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First Published: Fri, Jan 16 2009. 03 21 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Jan 16 2009. 03 21 PM IST
Cannes: This year’s influential MIDEM music trade show is likely to be short on high notes as the music industry struggles on in a crisis-hit world to find new revenue to compensate plummeting CD sales.
But the outlook for music fans worldwide remains upbeat as more music and music videos become available on a growing number of Internet sites including MySpace Music, mobile phones and other new digital platforms.
“There will be fewer people this year,” MIDEM director Dominique Leguern told AFP ahead of the Sunday opening of the world’s biggest such show. “Our industry has been in crisis for over five years and, on top of that, there is the global economic crisis.”
Over 85 countries are expected in this Riviera seaside resort for the event, with huge interest also in the MidemNet show, held on the eve of MIDEM against the backdrop of several potentially ground-breaking announcements.
Apple announced early this month that it will make every song in its massive iTunes library available without DRM anti-piracy software by April.
This means even music lovers who don’t own an iPod will be able to buy and download songs from the iTunes site on to any MP3 music player.
And Apple’s parallel decision to drop its sales practice of selling all iTunes songs for 99 US cents in favour of a triple pricing system is also likely to be followed by other online music sites.
But what impact Apple’s shift will have on the troubled music industry, as well as the Internet, mobile phone and video game worlds, remains far from clear.
The recording industry for its part has started to reinvent itself and its business models, John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), said Friday. “There is a momentous debate going on about the environment on which our business... depends. Governments are beginning to accept that... doing nothing is not an option if there is to be a future for commercial digital content.”
And the situation online is rosier than in previous years.
Digital outlets -- as opposed to CDs and other traditional forms of music -- now account for some 20% of recorded music sales, up from 15% in 2007, according to the IFPI report.
Music company sales internationally from digitally downloaded music rose 25% in 2008 to $3.7 billion, the report noted.
But the latest IFPI statistics also highlight that piracy continues to stalk the music industry.
“The music sector is still overshadowed by the huge amount of unlicensed music distributed online,” IFPI said, citing studies in 16 countries that showed that only one in 20 downloads are via legal channels.
Russia, where digital music sales have fantastic growth potential and physical sales continue to defy industry norms, according to MIDEM’s Leguern, will be the fair’s 2009 country of honour.
Russian superstar Valeriya will perform at the Opening Night Party Sunday along with a plethora of other top names from the country’s music scene.
Taiwan and Korea are bringing some of their hottest musical talent.
Glitz and glamour will be provided by some of the world’s top music stars, including Coldplay, Seal, Duffy, Katy Perry and Akon, in town for French radio station NRJ’s annual music awards.
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First Published: Fri, Jan 16 2009. 03 21 PM IST