Thursday, July 12, 2012

Old Records Outselling New For The First Time

Record Store image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here's a twist in music sales that I think everyone saw coming, but didn't want to admit could ever happen. For the first time since Nielsen Soundscan has been keeping track of sales since 1991, older catalog records are outselling current albums. A catalog album is one that was released more than 18 months ago.

Catalog sales were at 76.6 million for the first half of the year, compared to 73.9 million current albums. The top selling catalog items include Guns 'n Roses Greatest Hits, and four by Whitney Houston (no doubt boosted by her untimely death).

There seems to be a couple of reasons for the turnaround:

1) There hasn't been a blockbuster hit by a superstar act during the period (although Adele's 21 still continues to be strong seller, though it was released last year).

2) Record labels and retailers have dropped the prices on catalog items to $4.99 to $7.99. Compared with a current CD price of $13 to $18 and a digital album from $7.99 to $10.99, catalog items are a bargain.

3) The buyers of albums are predominantly older and purchase more albums, especially catalog items.

All this signals an uptick in business for brick and mortar retailers, which is good for the industry. Let's see if this trend continues until the end of the year.

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