Issuing its full year results this week, parent company Vivendi revealed that digital sales in its music division grew 8.4% last year (Results release, PDF link).
Despite this area of growth, revenues at Universal were down 6.2% from 2008 to €4.36bn. Digital, however, grew 8.4% despite the company reporting a “softening demand for mobile products in the United States and Japan”.
We wonder if the mobile decline reflects the impact of smartphone purchases, and a consequent waning demand for ringtones? That’s certainly the case in Japan, where Japanese label association the RIAJ last week told us ringtone sales fell19% in value last year.
Universal heaped praise on streaming music services Spotify, MusicStation and Vevo, saying these helped grow digital music revenues.
Music publishing revenues at UMG increased 1.7% and merchandising grew 24.6% but it was not enough to offset the decline in the physical recorded music business.
Best sellers for the year included new releases from Black Eyed Peas, U2 and Eminem and from Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Local best sellers included titles from Japan’s GreeeeN, Dreams Come True and Masaharu Fukuyama, as well as Germany’s Rammstein, and France’s Mylène Farmer.