The phonogram market continues to drop

The total domestic phonogram market in Norway is reduced by 10 % compared to last year. November was another rough month for the music industry, as sales figures declined 25 % compared to last year. But Norwegian artists continue to attract consumers, increasing their share of the market by 2 %.


The picture was so promising during the first six months of 2003, when accumulated sales made for a strong 6 % increase compared to 2002. Since then, however, Norwegian phonogram industry is facing the same negative trends as the rest of the global music industry.

The latest sales figures from the Association of Norwegian Record Distributors indicate a slump in phonogram sales of as much as 25 % in volume compared to October 2002. Sales of CD albums are down 24 % while singles are down a whopping 40 %. Total accumulated sales of CDs are estimated to 10,8 million, singles 0,9 million, giving a gross value of NOK 761 million (USD 113 million, EURO 93 million). This is 10 % lower in volume and 11 % lower in value compared to 2002.

Music DVD is the only format people are buying more of these days. DVDs are assuming bigger stake of the market with a strong 92 % increase since last year.

Lene Marlin attracts customers
Another continuing but positive trend is that domestic artists increase their share of the Norwegian music market. Norwegian artists are featured on 20 % of all consumed CDs, DVDs, and singles, compared to 18 % last year. Lene Marlin, Jan Werner, Morten Abel, Postgirobygget, Kurt Nilsen, Bertine Zetlitz, and D.D.E. are the best-selling Norwegian artists so fare in 2003, according to Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

Bare Bra Musikk is one of the companies who benefit from this tendency. After the five largest companies, Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony, and BMG, Bare Bra Musikk is the independent record company with highest market share in November, 3,6 %.
According to managing director Øivind Sauarlia, two Christmas CDs are the main reasons for their healthy numbers. “Halvdan Sivertsen - Frelsesarmeens Juleplate 2003” (The Salvation Army’s Christmas Album) and Elias Akselsen’s gipsy interpretations of Christmas carols, ”Her kommer dine armer små” have become phenomenon the last few weeks, much talked and written about in media. Another best seller of BBM is folky Ole Ivars, Norway’s largest dance band.
“We knew we had strong cards for the Christmas season, but the result is even better than we hoped for, says Sauarlia.

Platinum for less
Still, he is aware of the negative direction of the music market.
“Last year, it took 25 000 sold copies to achieve platinum, now it “only” takes 20 000. I am not saying that it has become easier to get a platinum in Norway, but the competitions is becoming harder, not only among record companies. We are competing with TV, the Internett, computer games. I think free downloading of music is only one of the explanations for the negative sales numbers. We had cassettes before as well. Now, you don’t have to know someone who owns the record to copy it, you can just find it online, says Sauarlia, who adds that he may be of a prehistoric race who prefer to own physical copies of music.

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