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Online music: sales double in 2006

It is now a substantial part of the market: 10% of the total music sold goes through online stores, first of all, of course, iTunes. But the decline of the CD seems to be unstoppable and at present there is no solution that knows how to avoid it, unless the providers are forced to adopt precise attitudes to identify pirates who use their networks.

In fact, the market lost 3% of its turnover in 2006 and the optimistic forecasts that IFPI itself had made a year ago regarding online sales – credited with numbers and percentages capable of compensating for losses – proved to be false. File sharing has been undermining sector budgets for five years and in the meantime there has been no increase in online sales. Rather. If in 2004 – for this sector only – 280 million dollars were invoiced and in 2005 the amount tripled reaching the figure of 1.1 billion dollars, in 2006 the growth slowed down, simply doubling the turnover. At present, only the markets of the United States, Great Britain and Japan seem to be able to give fully satisfactory results, but only starting from this year.

So what is the problem? According to Alex Zubillaga, executive vice president of Warner Music for the digital audio sector, the fact that, in the face of a thriving and healthy market, the companies were not very innovative and unable to attract customers. Not just a question of price. Also, certainly. But probably the lack of the ability to create around the music a whole market of services that constituted an authentic added value that could not be obtained otherwise. In the meantime, all that remains is to prosecute the pirates – continues Zubillaga – by dragging them to trial.

IFPI believes – finally – that the most promising market in the near future could be the one represented by the mobile sales market: iPhone, Nokia, Sony Ericcson, so to speak. If this were the case, iTunes would not waver, on the contrary, it could constitute precisely the added value that the market expects. And with good growth prospects if true that iTunes is turning into more than just a playlist container. [By Fabio Bertoglio]