Sacre blues: French music biz down 21%

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PARIS -- The wholesale value of the French music market in the first nine months decreased to €443.9 million ($651 million), down 20.5% from the corresponding period last year, according to figures issued Thursday by labels trade body SNEP.

It follows a 14% year-over-year shortfall registered for full-year 2006.

Digital sales for the period, however, were up 8.1% to €34.6 million ($50.7 million), and now represent 8% of the market. Internet downloads were up 23.6% to €14.4 million ($21.1 million), and mobile downloads rose 106.9% to €4.3 million ($6.3 million). Ringtones sales were down 23.4% to €8.9 million ($13 million).

At retail, the recorded music market dropped 10.6% to €761.7 million ($1.11 billion). The gap between the retail and wholesale decline is because of retailers reducing their stocks, SNEP said.

Classical repertoire now represents 9.4% of France's recorded music market, despite falling 14% in value from the same period in 2006. The share of local repertoire in nonclassical music was 64.3%, down from 64.8% at the same time in 2006.

In a Paris news conference, SNEP director general Herve Rony expressed hopes for smoother fourth-quarter results, thanks to upcoming releases by megastars Florent Pagny, Johnny Hallyday, Celine Dion and Michel Polnareff.
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