“Increases in digitally downloaded albums and songs were not enough to offset a nearly 20% plunge in CD sales in the U.S., according to year-end figures published Wednesday by the Nielsen Co.’s SoundScan service,” Ethan Smith reports for The Wall Street Journal.
CD sales declined “to 360.6 million in 2008, from 449.2 million a year earlier—has hurt the four major record labels as they try to migrate to digital sales on services like Apple Inc.’s iTunes Store, which in 2008 surpassed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the world’s largest music retailer,” Smith reports. “U.S. album sales including digital downloads fell 14% for the year, while factoring in individual song downloads, sales were off 8.5%.”
“Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group remained the biggest player, with 31.5% of the market. Sony Corp.’s Sony BMG Music Entertainment was No. 2, with 25.3%. Both those companies’ market shares were roughly equal to their 2007 levels. Warner Music Group Corp. gained more than a percentage point to reach a 21.4% share, while No. 4 EMI Group Ltd., amid numerous financial and operational problems, saw its share of the market fall below 9%,” Smith reports.
Full article (subscription required) here.
Music cartels, it’s really quite simple: Go DRM-free and higher quality on iTunes Store and you’ll sell more music.