Worldwide CD sales still declining

The continued decline of CD sales caused worldwide music sales to dip 10 more percent in 2009, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said in a statement.

Additional IFPI numbers indicate sales dropped as much as 30% since 2004, but the numbers haven’t been independently verified.  (The IFPI previously said 95% of online music was pirated music.)

“Our vision is music availability everywhere, at any time and in any place.  But the biggest question is how do we monetize it in an environment of widespread piracy,” said Eric Daugan, Warner Music Senior VP of Commercial Strategy, in the IFPI report.


Music copyright holders continue to blame Internet piracy for the decline in business, while music listeners continue to say it’s the lackluster quality of music.  In the United States, thousands of residents faced John Doe lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) — most people settled out of court for less than $8,000.

I think music studios need to leave behind blaming piracy and work directly with music listeners.  Instead of opening dialogue with file-sharers and iTunes users, the RIAA shut the door and refused to evolve. The music industry’s embrace of digital downloads and online streaming only occurred because they were forced to evolve.

In the future, it’s up to the RIAA to try to find ways to monetize streaming music and digital downloads, but avoid interfering with customers too much.  I’m skeptical the trade group will leave behind its Draconian policies any time soon, but I hope they start treating their customers better.

To move forward, the RIAA will have to fully embrace the online music business it has been hesitant to work with.