The music industry is calling for EU governments to help the industry combat the "proliferation" of music piracy in Europe.

Industry Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) chairman Jay Berman yesterday claimed that music downloads are seriously harming CD sales.

Barman was speaking at the IPFI Platinum Europe awards, which recognize artists who've sold one million or more albums in Europe. Seven artists managed over five million sales in Europe in 2000, but no artists have achieved that since.

Culture shock Barman warned: “Music-for-free means less new music, fewer new artists, less choice, thousands fewer jobs and a poorer European culture.”

He claimed a five per cent decline in the value of recorded music worldwide last year, with a 19 per cent downturn in Denmark, and a 10 per cent decline in Belgium and Austria.

IFPI believes that music is being taken without the permission of artists – damaging anyone whose livelihood depends on music.

John Kennedy, president of Universal Music International, said: “If the prevailing music-for-free mentality is left unchecked, record companies will no longer be able to invest up to 15 per cent of their revenues in discovering and nurturing the platinum artists of the future.”

Future music Berman warned: “It's a critical issue in which European governments have an important role to play in terms of legislation and creating public awareness of the problem. The future success of the European music industry is at stake.”

Composer Jean Michel-Jarre joined industry bigwigs, saying: “Governments can help support European music by promoting public awareness that when people take music that doesn't belong to them, they undermine the future of the very artists whose work they enjoy.”

“We are also asking the EU to promote European music by ending the current unfair discrimination between CDs and other cultural products that benefit from a reduced rates of VAT,” said Kennedy.