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LABEL NEWS: Music Sales Dip Four Percent for 2003 & Lyric Street Records And Sonya Isaacs Part Ways

(CelebrityAccess News Service) The value of US music shipments from record companies to retail outlets declined 4.3 percent in 2003 (compared to a 6.8 percent drop in 2002) and unit shipments declined 2.7 percent (compared to a 7.8 percent drop in 2002) – a slower decline rate than in previous years according to statistics released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The data suggests some stabilizing trends in the music industry. The year 2003 was important for the recording industry, with record companies offering consumers the widest choice and variety of ways to access music ever available, including through satellite radio and webcasting streams, exclusive release deals, different pricing strategies, new formats and value-added CD/DVD combinations in retail outlets.

The report shows that newer music formats are proving popular. The music video category demonstrated significant growth, with all formats of music video increasing in value by 38.7 percent. Of this, the music DVD format was a particular bright spot, with a 56 percent increase in value and a 64 percent increase in unit shipments. Figures for other emerging formats, such as digital downloads, are not included in this report."While the music industry continues to face serious challenges, we are pleased that trends appear to be going in a more positive direction," said Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the RIAA. "Record companies have taken a proactive approach to dealing with piracy, implementing educational efforts and enforcement programs that have dramatically increased awareness of the illegality of unauthorized file sharing, while at the same time ensuring that their music is available on a wide array of legal online services. However, while legitimate online services continue to proliferate and evolve to meet consumer demands, this is truly a marketplace in its infancy. Continued enforcement efforts are needed in order to create a level playing field on which legitimate online music services can compete and thrive."

In addition, the entire music community joined together to raise awareness about the illegality of file sharing copyrighted songs and the legal ways for consumers to access music online.

The 2003 statistics are supplied by PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP to the RIAA and are broken down by U.S. music shipments from record companies to retail outlets, and all U.S. music shipments from record companies (including retail shipments and direct-to-consumer sales and special markets). Dollar values are based on suggested retail list price for the record companies' shipments.

Fourth quarter unit shipments of all formats helped offset a 10 percent decline to retail outlets in the first six months of 2003. Shipments to retail increased 5.5 percent during that quarter alone and helped reduce the overall, year-end decline to 2.7 percent. The 2.7 percent decline represents a 4.3 percent drop in suggested list dollar value compared with 2002.

CD unit shipments to retail markets decreased three percent in 2003; 609.8 million units were shipped in 2003 and 628.4 units were shipped in 2002. This decrease represents a 5.1 percent decline in suggested list dollar value in 2003.

Shipments of CD singles improved significantly, up 85.5 percent from 2002, reflecting a stronger emphasis on this market by music companies. In 2003, 8.3 million units were shipped and in 2002, 4.5 million were shipped. This represents a dollar value increase of 84 percent equaling $35.9 million.Total U.S. music shipments, including to direct and special markets, dropped 7.2 percent from 859.7 million units in 2002 to 798.4 million units in 2003. In dollar value, this represents a six percent decrease. The three year decline (2000-2003) of music unit shipments is 26 percent and the value of those units declined 17.2 percent since 2000. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Lyric Street Records And Sonya Isaacs Part Ways

NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess News Service) – Lyric Street Records President, Randy Goodman and Lyric Street Recording Artist, Sonya Isaacs announced today that Isaacs would be leaving the label immediately to pursue other opportunities. Both Goodman and Isaacs described the split as “a mutual decision based on mutual respect”.

Goodman characterized his time with Isaacs as one of the most gratifying and yet frustrating times for him since the six-year-old label began. “I respect Sonya’s talent and spirit so much and believe she’ll be in the Hall of Fame some day. However, our efforts as a label in breaking Sonya through to Country Radio have not worked and I do not want our inabilities to become an obstacle in Sonya’s furthering her career. We will always consider her a part of our family and wish her well and God’s speed.”

Lyric Street Records is a part of the Buena Vista Music Group. The Buena Vista Music Group is the recorded music and music-publishing arm of the Walt Disney Company. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers