The negative trends that began to affect the domestic Norwegian phonogram market last year continues into 2004. While the first quarter sales figures showed a somewhat stabilised market, the May statistics from the Association of Norwegian Record Distributors make for more disappointing reading. The sales figures tell the tale of a decline in sales of phonograms: 22% down in volume and 21% in value compared to May 2003. Sales of CD albums are down 26% in volume and 21% in value compared to last year.
The only positive trend can be witnessed in the singles sales figures: up 3% in volume and 56% in value.
The explosive increase in sales of DVD music witnessed in the last years has come to an abrupt end as May sales indicate a decline of 39% in volume and 54% in value.
The total accumulated sales in 2004 amount to 4,3 million albums, 357 000 singles and 105 000 music DVDs resulting in a total revenue of NOK 296 million ($ 43m/€ 35,7).
Compared to 2003, the Norwegian phonogram market dropped 6% in volume and 9% in value in May.
A number of factors are cited to explain the disappointing May sales on the domestic market. Internet piracy is singled out as the no.1 culprit and is blamed for the general global music industry recession. Seasonal downturns, such as the market loss experienced this May can be attributed to other factors.
Says Universal Music Norway’s sales director Harald Tømte to daily Dagbladet: “Traditionally, May is generally a difficult month and we are also witnessing a market in general decline. One explanation to the low May sales can be the repertoire that’s on the market. We lack the big guns. We have also experienced that managements and artists wish to release their records in the autumn. It’s understandable that they want to release their albums into the market place at the best possible time now that the market is shrinking. “
Strikes in the transport sector as well as among journalists in the major daily newspapers could also be a contributing factor to the market’s poor performance.
BMG Norway’s Rune Kristoffersen is not surprised by the low sales figures: “I had almost feared more disappointing figures. It comes as no surprise that May is a difficult month, and in addition to this we had a massive transport worker strike that caused fewer shoppers at the major malls. The weather was also remarkably fine in May and we also had a release schedule with few major international and domestic artists.”
Market shares May 2004:
EMI Recorded Music 13,3%
Bonnier Amigo 7,9%
Master Music/Naxos 3,5%
Bare Bra Musikk/ Tylden 0,2%
Total revenue in May amounted to NOK 48,8m (app. $33,6m/€40,5m)