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Aussie digital music downloads keep rising

April 13, 2007

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Australia stands out as one of the fastes growing digital markets, as far as music downloads are concerned.

Despite the initial low expectations,  digital sales poured nearly $28 million into the nation’s music industry last year  alone compared with $8 million in 2005, according to Australian Recording Industry Association figures.

Digital music sales now account for 5.5 per cent of the $512 million Australian domestic market, up from 1.5 per cent last year and is expected to grow to about 10 per cent by 2008.

Even though half of digital sales come from mobile phone-based revenues, there is no doubt that the opening of Apple iTunes Australian store, two years ago, was one of the most important factors for reaching these numbers today, along with the the spread of broadband internet technology.

ARIA chief executive Stephen Peach has said the Australian market was following overseas trends in most areas, with the notable exception of CD album sales, which rose 8 per cent to nearly 50 million last year.Mr Peach attributed the boost to popular homegrown releases from the likes of Wolfmother, Eskimo Joe, Rogue Traders, Damien Leith, the Veronicas and Human Nature.

Downloading has mainly replaced the CD single, sales of which nosedived more than 40 per cent. In the past five years, the format has gone from selling over 12 million copies to a mere 4 million last year.

“You’ve got those that predict (digital music) will be 100 per cent of the market in years to come and CDs are a thing of the past,” he said. “Thus far that would seem not to be true anywhere in the world. Digital music (in Australia) is showing all the signs of following overseas trends and becoming a significant distribution channel for music but, at this stage, not necessarily the dominant distribution channel.”

Despite the increase in albums leaving record stores, the wholesale value of discs dropped more than 5 per cent or $23 million on the previous year.

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