New figures published by French industry body SNEP show that digital is now the biggest part of the French recorded music market. In the first six months of 2017, it accounted for 55% of recorded music revenues in the country.

Unlike in other major territories, streaming is not yet managing to counter the physical and downloads decline. While the French market was worth €189.5m in the first half of this year, that was a fall of 2.3% from the €193.9m in H1 2016. While streaming revenue was up 27.3% to €87.5m, the physical market tumbled 18.2% to a value of €85.1m.

This situation is exacerbated by the symbolism inherent in the shifting fortunes of formats whereby streaming revenues are effectively on a par with physical revenues – with the former making up 47% of the total market (up from 25% in H1 2016) compared to physical’s 48% (down from 68%) and downloading’s meagre 5% (down from 7%).

Streaming also accounts for the lion’s share of digital income (now standing at 84%).

Even at the top end of the market, the going is tough. SNEP reports that combined sales of the top 10 albums in H1 2017 reached 2m units, but that this was a 20% drop compared to H1 2016. The biggest album so far this year, Mission Enfoirés by Les Enfoirés, has 260k sales, but this was under half of the 602k sales of Renaud by Renaud last year.

SNEP, trying to focus on the positives, was effusive about the uptake of streaming in H1 this year. “Each week, on average, nearly 750m listening sessions are performed on audio streaming platforms,” said the report, pointing out the average in H1 2016 was 500m.

Streaming revenues of all types were up 27% in the period, with subs-based streaming income up 26% and ad-supported streaming growing by 30%. Breaking that down further, subs-based streaming accounts for 38% of the market now, a significant uptick from the 20% it accounted for in the first half of 2015.

The ownership model of consumption continues to fall through the floor, which physical album sales down 18%, album downloads slipping 25% and track downloads dropping by 16%.

Perhaps the most interesting set of figures within the report is around the format biases of different genres. Urban music (“musiques urbaines”) is just 22% physical and 73% streaming while dance/electronic music is 28% physical and 65% streaming.

Compare that to rock/pop (67% physical and 27% streaming) or variety music (“variétés”) (78% physical and a mere 17% streaming) and it is arguable that age is as much a factor here as format availability.

What also really stands out is just how irrelevant the download has become in France. Across any genre, it has no more than 7% format share.

According to IFPI’s figures for 2016, France was ranked fifth globally in all three format categories – physical (accounting for 6% of global sales), digital (3% of global income) and total streaming (4% global share).

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