German music consumers shun new technologies

German music consumers shun new technologies
Photo: DPA
The German music industry is expecting a “single-figure” percent drop in turnover for 2008, according to the German Music Industry Association. Experts say that German music consumers are not quite ready for new technologies.

Stefan Michalk, spokesman for the association, told the news agency DDP on Friday that despite this small overall drop, branches of the music business such as licensing, concerts and merchandising have prospered this year, though the statistics have not yet been released.

With the wide range of new music technologies now available, and pre-installed music now on new computers and mobile phones, the consumer of the future “will be increasingly particular about what his personal music needs are,” Michalk said. But compared to American and British consumers, Germans are showing a stubborn loyalty to the old-fashioned listening habits.

Despite consistent falls in CD sales, in comparison to other countries Michalk says that Germany still has a “stable business” when it comes to physical sound-storage media. “A lot of people have a mobile phone that can play music, but don’t use this service.”

Michalk warned against introducing technologies to the market before the consumer is ready. “Record companies can’t afford to invest in things that don’t promise success.” Nevertheless he does believe that investing in new ideas is the right way in the long-term.

Despite the Germans’ relative conservatism, the turnover figures for 2008 show a 30 to 40 percent increase in download sales. On top of this, users are more often buying whole albums rather than singles online. In the first nine months of the year, there was a 50 percent growth in the sale of so-called music “bundles”.

Up-to-date statistics on illegal downloading are not yet available, though Michalk criticised the announcement of some state prosecutors that they would only pursue music pirates with more than 3,000 downloads. “That wasn’t particularly helpful,” he said.

Since September, the names of illegal downloaders can be legally released in Germany after only one album has been downloaded.