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Less recorded music bought in U.S.

The retail sales chart for recorded music in the U.S. has the profile of a ski slope. The industry group, Recording Industry Associaton of America (RIAA) reports overall retail sales of recorded music declined 6.2 percent in 2006. Nearly 13 percent fewer CDs were shipped. The RIAA says it represents nearly 90 percent of all recorded music sold in America.

Biggest losing category: Latin music down over 21 percent from 2005.

Downloaded music sales doubled, accounting for nearly 2 billion out of the total $11.5 billion in sales reported by RIAA members. Mobile music formats nearly doubled but are still worth less than $1 billion annually.

In short, RIAA members are moving more and more toward online and digital formats, but the business continues to shrink, not expand.

Some observers say it's not a tech issue, it's a question of the music. Charles Cooper opined as much and the "talkbacks" got heated and intense. And you might get a little suspicious about how swift those folks at the RIAA have been in dealing with technology. Their press release says, "a digital marketplace now worth nearly $2 billion has emerged virtually overnight."

Say what? The original Napster launched in June 1999. Even iTunes has been around since January 2001. This in an industry in which acts and hit songs can come and go in months. Overnight? I think those RIAA folks are wandering around in a dark night of their own making.