Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Official 2010 Music Sales Stats, Or Are They?

As you can see from the chart on the left, the RIAA recently released their official 2010 music sales statistics. As with most stats, they can be interpreted different ways, both good and bad. Here's one way to look at them.
  • 1.265 billion downloads were sold worth $2.38 billion. That's a lot of music.
  • Ringtones (seen here as Mobile) were down by just about 28%, but worth $526 million, still a lot of money.
  • There were almost 30% more subscribers to subscription music, but the revenue was down by almost 6%. Not a good sign.
  • No surprise here, but CD sales were down by 23%, but that meant that there were still 226 million sold for a revenue total of $3.36 billion. That might not be as much as what was sold at the height of the business, but it's still a lot of music.
  • Vinyl was up by 26%, but that only meant 4 million units for $87 million in income, a mere drop in the bucket.
  • One excellent stat for musicians is that performance royalties were up by 60% to $249 million.
Now keep in mind that what these stats represent are every sale that's been recorded by Soundscan (the service that measures music sales whenever a barcode is scanned), but doesn't represent anything sold independently on artist websites or distribution sites like CD Baby or TuneCore. It's been suggested that there's actually a huge hidden and uncounted amount of sales that you'll never see represented. As a result, the music business may be much healthier than the RIAA stats indicate. The problem is, we'll never know for sure.
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