Thursday, July 7, 2011

Album Sales Rise For The First Time Since 2004

Yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you. Something in the music business besides vinyl actually went the other way for a change, as in up. Nielsen Soundscan, the people who officially measure music sales, found that through the first half of the year there were 155.5 million albums sold in the United States, compared to the 2010 when there was 153.9 for the same period.

Granted, it's only a 1% increase, but the music industry is looking for any cause to rejoice at this point. There's more though, according to Nielsen, “digital album sales are up 19 percent through the first six months over 2010 and are on pace to set a new sales record at the end of the year”. More than 660.8 million digital units (meaning songs) were sold in the first half of 2011 as well, an 11 percent increase from the summer of last year.

Now there are a number of interesting points to consider here.

1) It seems that catalog sales have spurred this slight album growth. Catalog is what's always been hit the hardest by the digital revolution, so it's certainly an interesting twist when you see growth in this area.

2) Considering that music in the cloud has begun and consumers are getting used to streaming and subscription, it's hard to believe that any kind of music sales have grown. Of course, the big test is when iCloud launches. Let's see if these numbers hold by the end of the year. Then there's cause for celebration.

3) Spotify hasn't launched yet. The word is that Spotify will launch in the States any day now, and by all accounts, it's a game changer. Add to the fact that they'll be partnering with Facebook so it will be built-in to the social network, and music download sales might actually take a big hit.

All that being said, I predict that music consumption will be higher than ever, and total revenue might climb. Of course, as I've stated in so many previous posts, it looks like the artist will get screwed out of most of this income, at least in the beginning, as most of this new found income goes to the labels. But make no mistake, we're right in the middle of a music business revolution. Feel it. Enjoy it. Make it work for you.
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