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Study: CD prices sing the blues

The average retail price of full-length CDs continues to drop, as the recording industry adjusts to market changes driven partly by file sharing.

The average retail price of full-length CDs fell to $13.29 in the first quarter of 2004--a decline of 4 percent from the same period a year ago, according to a new study.

The top 50 CD sellers nationwide sold discs for an average price of $13.36, a drop of 3.1 percent versus a year ago, said a survey released Thursday by the NPD Group. Meanwhile, catalog CDs--comprised of titles that are 18-months-old or more--dropped below the $13 threshold to $12.99.

NPD President Russ Crupnick attributed the decline in part to a changing market due to the file-sharing boom. In addition, competition for entertainment dollars has become tougher for the recording industry in an environment that saw DVDs and video games growing at double-digit rates, he said.

Universal Music Group slashed retail prices of its titles by 5 percent between the first quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. However, a study by Harvard University researchers who tracked music downloads said file sharing does not affect CD sales.

NPD Group earlier had said that digital song and subscription site consumers were buying up to 80 percent more CDs than those who did not subscribe.