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’09 Music Sales Shed $1 Billion; U.S. Downloads Stagnant

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Global recorded music sales shrank by 7.2 percent, from $18.3 billion to $17 billion, through 2009 – meaning the industry has scored fewer sales each year since 1999.

Digital sales grew 9.2 percent and now make up over a quarter of all music income…

But the extra $363 million brought in by digital last year still wasn’t enough to offset $1.74 billion lost from physical sales, says the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s Recording Industry In Numbers report, marking wholesale trade value, not retail value.

Some details…

— North America digital sales grew so slowly, they’re basically stagnant, the slowest in the world at just 1.1 percent. iTunes Store is now the U.S.’ biggest music seller, with over a quarter of sales – so the industry must hope Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) innovation can provide it with another shot in the arm. iTunes Store boosted sales after its launch in 2003 – so maybe a subscription iTunes offering can do it again.

— It’s not bad everywhere. UK music sales grew in 2009 on digital surge and a strong line-up, albeit by just 1.4 percent, and it’s now one of six countries (along with India, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico and Australia) to have hit the “tipping point” at which digital income is offsetting physical decline, IFPI says.

— But the global picture is being dragged down by the U.S. and Japan, its two biggest markets. They’re to blame for 80 percent of the sales loss. Ignoring these two countries, the global fall would have been only 3.2 percent.

So the industry is not getting off the piracy soapbox just yet. The IFPI says it remains “one of the biggest obstacles”. CEO John Kennedy: “Growth is within reach for the music business