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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Music Sales For 2012 Not Pretty

Soundscan image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Soundscan released its mid-year music sales report on Wednesday and for the most part, the state of the industry is not pretty.

Album sales are down 3% from last year, but that's not the worry. The biggest seller is still Adele's 21, an album released at the beginning of last year. New albums from superstars like Justin Bieber, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Nicki Minaj have yet to make much of a sales dent.

150 million albums have been sold so far this year, behind last years 155 million. Adele's 21 has sold 3.69 million this year and more than 9.4 million in the US since it was released in January of 2011. What's a bit depressing is that 21 is the only album that's cracked the million barrier this year. Lionel Ritchie's Tuskegee is close with 912,000, and the latest boy band sensation One Direction and their Up All Night comes in third at 899,000.

But only 11 albums have gone past 500,000 this year so far, despite all the superstar releases. This is also down from last year when 16 went gold by this time.

Singles are a bright spot, however, as they're up over last year by 6%. The top selling track is Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," with over 5.5 million downloads since the first of the year. fun.'s "We Are Young" is the runner up with 5.09 million sold, with Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" (which is selling for a quarter on Amazon MP3) coming in third with 4 million downloads.

Even those numbers are down a bit though. In 2012, 47 songs have sold at least a million, while in 2011, 52 songs had reached that point by this time of the year.

Is streaming starting to take it's toll?

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Facebook Loses Active Users

Facebook-unique-visitors-drop image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blogIt's been evident that the number of unique visitors on Facebook was leveling off in recent months, but now comes evidence of a significant decline. Via an article on Hypebot, the site analyst company ComScore has determined that the number of unique visitors to Facebook have declined by 4.8% in the last six months!

This is pretty substantial in that Facebook was counting on its subscribers to rise a bit in the US rather than dropping, in order to support its recent IPO and subsequent investors. It's true that its more likely that the company will gain users in other parts of the world (in Asia in particular) as the US market seems somewhat saturated, but a decline of almost 5% is really unexpected.

So what's the reason for the decline? Are the users tiring of the Facebook experience? Do they hate the redesign (especially Timeline)? Are they using another social network instead? Are they still using the network but not loggin in? What do you think?

For the record, Facebook claimed that it has over 900 million "active" users in their last quarterly report. It'll be interesting to see what the next quarter report looks like.

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Latest "Best Time" To Tweet And Post

Distorted Clock image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Sometimes getting solid data about anything online is such a moving target. There's a lot of different studies and none of them may correlate. A new study by the URL shortening service Bit.ly has some new info on the best time to tweet in order to gain more responses, and the best time to post on Facebook in order to get more Likes. Here's what they found:

Twitter
  • The most clickthroughs come between 1 to 3PM EST Monday through Thursday.
  • Not much happens after 8PM weeknights, or 3PM on Friday.
  • The lifetime of a typical tweet is 2.8 hours.
  • Peak traffic time is from 9AM to 3PM EST Monday through Thursday. That doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get more responses, since there's already a lot more competition for attention.

Facebook
  • The highest clickthroughs come at 3PM EST on Wednesday, with links posted from 1 to 4PM getting the highest average clickthroughs.
  • Links after 8PM and before 8AM struggle for attention.
  • Facebook traffic starts at about 9AM, but Bit.ly suggests waiting until 11AM to post.
  • Facebook traffic begins to fade after 4PM.
Now just to show you how some of these studies differ, previous studies by Dan Zarrella and Vitrue have found that the best time for Facebook posts were 8AM, 11AM and 4PM EST, while the best time for tweets is 11AM, 3PM and 8PM EST.


Just to go a bit further, Buddy Media did a study a month earlier and discovered the following about Facebook:
  • Brands that posted outside of business hours had 20% higher engagement than between 10AM and 4PM.
  • Thursday and Friday got the best engagement, while Monday and Saturday had the worst.
  • Posts with questions have a 15% higher engagement rate. A question starting with the word "would" gets the most engagement, followed by "where," "when," and "should." "Why" gets the least engagement.
So like with much of the stats that we see online, you have to take these things with a grain of salt and see what works best for every specific application. The only thing that they all have in common is that posting or tweeting at the top of the hour (i.e. 8AM), is a lot more effective than anything else. At least that's something solid.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beats Buys MOG

Beats - MOG image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here's something I don't think anyone saw coming. Headphone maker Beats Electronics, owned by rap artist/producer Dr. Dre and music exec Jimmy Iovine, has acquired the digital music service MOG Inc. What's particularly interesting is that the purchase price was reportedly "less than $10 million" for a service that has 500,000 registered users. Sounds like a bargain to me.

The deal makes sense at that price since Beats is trying to create an ecosystem built around their headphones. If you have a supply of high-quality tunes to listen to (MOG uses a very good 320kbs codec), that side of the company can feed the headphone side and vice versa. With Iovine being the ultimate music industry insider, any licensing problems should be easy to overcome, especially since both Universal and Sony were owners in MOG (beside 3 venture capital groups).

Beats is an interesting story in that they take some more or less crappy Chinese headphones, jack up the price to way beyond what they're worth, and somehow get people to buy them. It sort of reminds me of Monster Cable, who does the same thing. The company has now taken over more than 43% of the headphone market, I'm sure much to the chagrin of quality headphone manufacturers like Audio Technica, Sennheiser, Shure and others. You snooze you loose, guys.

Let's see if Beats continues with their magic touch as they proceed with MOG in the fold.

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The EMI Publishing Deal Is Now Complete

As EMI winds down from being a major record label, thereby taking the number of majors from 4 to 3, the first part of the deal is now complete. An investor group led by Sony/ATV Publishing now brings the famous and powerful EMI Music Publishing under its wing.

The group, which includes the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi, Jynwel Capital of Hong Kong, Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners, the estate of Michael Jackson and mogul David Geffen, paid $2.2 billion to purchase EMI Publishing, which appears to be a pretty good deal. EMI Publishing has long been considered the jewel of the industry, with a catalog of 1.3 million songs including classics like "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "New York, New York," as well as songs by The Beatles, The Police, The Beach Boys, Kenye West, Alica Keys, Justin Beiber and many other superstars.

Terms dictated by the Jackson Estate stipulate that EMI Music Publishing still remains as a separate company, which is all well and good, but it's still under the same conglomerate umbrella.

Isn't this country supposed to have anti-trust laws to prevent major consolidation like this? It's not only a bad idea for one company to have such a large market share (well over 30%), but it's bad for the writers too. With that many songs to administer, it's too easy to fall between the cracks.

This is just another indication of how badly the music business needs a major reset, even more so than we're seeing today.

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

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