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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Music Business Is Not Dying

As all the various research and trade organizations begin releasing their 2011 sales figures, a number of them have jumped out for perfectly defining the state of the music industry today. Check this out:

1) US album sales were up 1.3% last year, the first year since 2005 that's happened. 66% of these sales were CDs.

2) There were 249 million albums sold in the US last year. People will tell you that the music industry is dying, but 249 million of anything is still a huge number.

3) 75% of all CD sales were made offline. That means that people physically purchased the CD at a brick and mortar store or an event.

4) 40% of all CD buyers are over the age of 45, which means that the demo that mostly grew up with CDs are the ones still buying them.

5) Vinyl sales increased 37 percent in 2011, but only accounted for 1.2 percent of all physical sales. That doesn't mean that people who buy vinyl actually listen to it. Just like the old days, many still buy it for the cover and the artwork, and the trendiness (which is new).

6) Rock is the most popular genre of music, with 32 percent album share, while pop music represents 40 percent of all current digital tracks sold. Ninety-three of the 100 best selling vinyl albums in 2011 fall within the Rock or Alternative genres. I guess that means that the hip-hop and rap trend has run it's course.

7) People who live in New York or LA buy more country records than those who live in Nashville by almost 2 to 1. Having just come from a speaking tour in Nashville, I can tell you first-hand that it's a very cosmopolitan music town, with country no longer the major part of the industry as it once was. That said, country music represents 13% of the total album sales.

8) Digital country music sales are up 31% over last year. While it might have been true that country music lovers were slow to get into digital music, that's obviously no longer the case.

9) Acts that perform at halftime during the Superbowl get an average sales bump of 555%. Critics may pan them and you might hate them, but you still buy them.

All these numbers (which mostly come from Nielsen Soundscan and the IFPI) show that the music business is still huge, is still extremely diverse, and is still as quirky as ever. It is changing, morphing, shifting, and evolving, but it is not dying.