Sale of sound recordings from domestic producers and distributors has plummeted about three quarters since its peak in 1999. Last year’s sale was 192 thousand copies of CDs and phonograms, or 676 thousand less than in the year 1999, when the sale numbered 868 thousand copies. At the same time sale of CDs and phonograms per capita has dropped from 3.1 to 0.6. In last year, the sale value at distributor level was 430 ISK million, or about one third of the sale value in 1999, at fixed prices.

In last year, the sale went down by 20 per cent compared with the previous year, or 192,000 copies compared with 243,000. The number of copies sold has declined appreciably since at its all-time heights in 1999 when the sale numbered 868,000 copies. It equals a drop of 78 per cent over 16 years (see figure 1).

Eight out of every ten copies sold of CDs and phonograms in last year were domestic productions. In the wake of declining sales, the share of domestic productions has increased each year almost without an exception; was less than a half throughout the 1990s and in the early 2000s but over 80 per cent over the last five years.

Release and distribution of phonograms has in recent years been somewhat revived after having become almost distinct for years following the rapid upsurge of CDs. In last year, phonogram sale was 11,000 copies compared with 180,000 copies sold of CDs, or as equals six per cent of the total.

Last year’s total sale value of sound recordings (CDs, phonograms and digital files) amounted to 430 ISK million, compared with 470 ISK million in the previous year. This equals about eight per cent drop in sale value between years. The total sale value has slumped 73 per cent since its all-time high in 1999, calculated in fixed prices (see figure 2).


Fast declining sale of CDs and phonograms can to at large extent be explained by effects of two factors. After the CD took over from the phonogram in the 1990s and material which had hitherto been available on phonograms was reissued on CD spurred the sale, which since has naturally declined following saturation of the market. On the other hand, the fall in sale of CDs can be attributed to news methods of distributing music in the form of digital files (as downloads and streaming). In the last year, the sale value of digital files was 123 ISK million, or about one thirds of the total sale value of sound recordings. It must, however, be kept in mind that information about sale of digital files does not include downloads and streaming from foreign suppliers.

Information about sale of sound recordings are derived from the annual audit surveys of the Federation of the Phonogram Industry, the Icelandic Group of IFPI.