Universal Music stays on top as CD buyers age
Tue Aug 2, 2005 9:20 AM ET
By Jeffrey Goldfarb
LONDON (Reuters) - Universal Music grabbed more of the U.S. market to widen its lead as the world's biggest record company in 2004 despite facing a rival of similar size for the first time, data released on Tuesday show.
Annual statistics from the trade group for the world's record companies also reveal that music consumers have aged as the industry chases more older listeners after losing younger fans to file-sharing and illegal downloading.
About 55 percent of the music sold last year was bought by people older than 30 compared with 48 percent in 1999, the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry said.
More records are being sold in mass-market retailers such as Wal-Mart and Tesco, which cater to older customers, while teenagers are more prone to download songs, which are not counted in the industry statistics. For Universal Music, a unit of Vivendi, albums from U2, Eminem and Shania Twain helped it grow to a 25.5 percent share of the $33.6 billion market from 23.4 percent in 2003, and ward off the threat from newly created Sony BMG, which had the top-selling album of the year, Usher's "Confessions."
"In 2004, all of the majors lost share to Universal, who had a storming year, and that's all happening in North America," said Keith Jopling, IFPI's market research director.
Sony BMG, which had 21.5 percent of the market, is a joint venture created last year by combining the recorded music divisions of Japan's Sony Corp. and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann.
The group excludes Sony Music in Japan, the world's second-largest market, which IFPI now counts as an independent. That helped keep the worldwide indie market share flat at 28.4 percent.
Universal grabbed a big chunk of North American market share from its three main rivals, jumping to 32.5 percent from 27.9 percent while Sony BMG's share in the world's largest region slipped to 24.9 percent from 27.6 percent.
London-based EMI scored top sellers with a new album from Norah Jones and a greatest hits compilation from Robbie Williams to hold the global third spot with a 13.4 percent share, a drop of 0.1 percentage point drop from 2003.
Warner Music, which was sold out of the Time Warner media empire last year and taken public earlier this year, slipped 1.2 percentage points to 11.3 percent of the market in 2004 with the fewest of the 50 top-selling albums.
By genre, Americans are buying more country music and less pop than they did five years ago, the IFPI found, while Britons are buying more rock and rap and less dance music. Germans are also buying more rock at the expense of pop and dance.