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Younger People Buying Smaller Share of Music

Rock still dominates the market, study shows, but record stores' retailing lead is diminishing.

April 01, 1999|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — True or false? Young people love to buy music, they crave rock 'n' roll, and record stores are indisputably their favorite places to shop for sounds.

Answers: False, false and false.

A new consumer profile of music buyers by the Recording Industry Assn. of America offers some insights into a business being buffeted by change.

The music industry shipped $13.7 billion worth of music to merchants in 1998, up from $12.2 billion the year before. But people 15 to 29 years old--the bedrock of a youth-obsessed industry--bought a smaller share of music, the survey found. This age group accounted for 39% of music purchases last year, down from 42% the year before.

"In many ways, music is much more ubiquitous for young people," said Hilary Rosen, RIAA president and chief executive. "You can get it on the radio, get it on MTV, get it on the Internet. There are many more choices out there to get music for free."

Through a technology called MP3, computer users are able to sell or trade copies of songs through the Internet, which is causing major headaches for the music industry.

Rosen said Internet distribution is a small factor in the trend. But Siddiq Bello, publisher of industry newsletter MP3 Impact, suggested Wednesday that the availability of music in cyberspace is responsible for a real dent in sales, particularly among consumers 15 to 24 years old.

Consumers 30 and older bought half the music sold last year, compared with 34% a decade ago.

Rock 'n' roll is still the most popular category of music, but it accounted for just under 26% of the music sold last year, down from 33% in 1997 and 42% in 1989.

Fifty-one percent of consumers bought music in record stores last year, down from 72% in 1989.

The consumer profile is based on 3,051 telephone and Internet interviews conducted by Chilton Research Services.

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