Music Sales Shed Another $1.4 Billion As Digital Growth Flattens Out

The trade value of global music sales shrank by 8.4 percent, down to $17.38 billion, in 2010, as the drop-off in physical sales continued (-14.2 percent), according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) trade umbrella’s hefty annual Recording Industry In Numbers report.

*Time* was, the business could count on digital sales to make up the difference at some point in the future. But 2010 digital sales growth was just +5.3 percent, its slowest for some years – and it was just +1.2 percent in the U.S., pushed down by a “steep decline” in mobile music sales.

Labels represented by IFPI are hoping new retail models like unlimited-subscription can re-ignite industry growth. The IFPI thinks such services, notably Rhapsody and Spotify, have 10 million global subscribers. It also keeps lobbying governments for anti-piracy action that would go in tandem with new legal services, and it’s still trying to manufacturer scenarios in which ISPs would launch some of those services whilst kicking off freeloaders.

Global music sales are now 29 percent digital, though that is 49 percent (the same as physical) in the U.S.. Digital sales are 25 percent of the total in the UK, up by a fifth in 2010.