Germany: "Piracy Causing Music Slump"

Echoing the sentiments of their American counterparts, German music industry executives are blaming the popularity of the CD burner for slumping music sales. "More music is probably being heard now than ever before," said German Recording Industry Association president Gerd Gebhardt, "but the music is not paid for, because copying has become so cheap and easy."

CD burners are now standard equipment on most new personal computers sold in Germany, a fact that Gebhardt and his colleagues blame for a 10% decline in sales of recorded music in the country last year. Figures released by the GRIA on March 21 indicate that retail sales slipped from €2.49 billion (US$2.19 billion) in 2000 to €2.24 billion (US$1.97 billion) in 2001.

Music freely downloaded on the Internet also took a major bite out of music sales, according to Gebhardt, who told reporters that "the value of music illegally downloaded last year exceeded that sold over the counter." Like America's Michael Greene (president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), Jack Valenti (president of the Motion Picture Association of America), and other entertainment executives, Gebhardt exhorted German lawmakers to institute tougher laws against piracy.

The numbers: 244.1 million CDs, LPs, singles, cassettes, mini-discs, and music DVDs were purchased by German music fans in 2001, compared with 266.4 million a year earlier. The numbers were down for the music industry as a whole, but sales of DVDs and LPs increased substantially. More than twice as many music DVDs—1.3 million—were sold in Germany in 2001 than in the previous year. LPs are enjoying a tremendous resurgence, with sales up 42%. Germans bought 700,000 LPs in 2000, but the total increased to over 1,000,000 in 2001.