Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2012 Music Sales: No Reason To Celebrate Yet

IFPI logo image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
In the last few days just about every print and online publication has had an article about the triumph of the music industry last year. It seems that sales were up for the first time since 1999, which no doubt is a good thing. But look a little closer at the stats and you have to come away with a "hmmmmm."

According to reports from both the international trade group IFPI and research company NPD Group, last year's sales jumped 0.3% to around $16.5 billion, and digital music, which increased 9%, represented 34% of that total. All well and good there.

Then you read that a lot of that was due to the fact that music piracy was down a lot last year:
  • Consumers using P2P services to download music declined 17%
  • The volume of illegally downloaded music files from P2P declined 26%
  • Music files burned and ripped from CDs owned by friends and family fell 44%
  • The number of files swapped from hard drives dropped 25%
  • The volume of music downloads from digital lockers decreased by 28%
  • 40% of consumers who illegally downloaded in 2011 stopped doing so in 2012
On the surface, all good news. By every account, music piracy is on the decline. But think about it - all this and total music sales only rose 0.3%?

Something's not working with these numbers, but I suspect it's the same as when the RIAA and IFPI were claiming that for every one sale, somewhere between 9 and 19 were pirated, depending upon the day and what side of the bed the researcher got up on. Let's face it, numbers like these were never dependable in the first place.

Here's something else that's scary. The biggest selling album of 2012 was the same as 2011; Adele's 21, this time with 8.3 million compared with over 18 million the year before. Once again, on the surface it's great that any album in the Music 3.0 age (soon to be Music 3.5 by the way) can sell this many, but bad in that there was no new album released in 2012 with enough juice to overtake it.

I don't want to come off like a naysayer, since I'm the biggest proponent that things aren't as bad as they're sometimes made out to be, and what we're living through is only the natural evolution of things. I'm just saying to always take industry numbers with a grain of salt.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Music piracy as measured by P2P is down, but music piracy as estimated (as it is hard to get precise numbers) by file lockers is up. Music pirates moved from P2P to File Lockers as it is less detectable.


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