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Young People Are Buying Less Music

April 1, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Young people are buying less music, according to a new recording industry survey _ and the Internet may be partly to blame.

The music industry shipped $13.7 billion worth of music to merchants in 1998, up from $12.2 billion the year before.

But people aged 15 to 29 _ the bedrock of a youth-obsessed industry _ bought a smaller share of the music, according to a profile of music consumers by the Recording Industry Association of America. The age group accounted for 39 percent of music purchases in 1998, down from 42 percent the year before.

``In many ways, music is much more ubiquitous for young people,″ said Hilary Rosen, the association president. ``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.″

Fifty-one percent of consumers bought music in record stores last year, down from 72 percent in 1989. Just over 1 percent of consumers bought music through the Internet last year, a category the industry only started counting in 1996.

Through the MP3 technology, computer users are able to sell or trade copies of songs online, an activity that’s causing major headaches now for the music industry.

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

Consumers aged 30 and older bought half the music sold last year, up from 34 percent a decade ago.

Rock ‘n’ roll is still the most popular category of music, but its slip is showing. Rock accounted for just under 26 percent of the music sold last year, down from 33 percent in 1997 and 42 percent in 1989.

It’s a genre dominated by white males, and women bought more music than men in 1998 for the second straight year.

Rock is also losing its dominant status to rhythm ‘n’ blues and rap, which has doubled its share of the market over the last decade. Rap and R&B accounted for 23 percent of sales last year, up from 16 percent in 1989.

Latin music is also booming. Its sales rose 25 percent last year, Rosen said.

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