Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Physical sales continues gentle decline

CD sales are down 10 per cent compared with this time last year, but - surprisingly - record shops are quite chipper about this:

The Entertainment Retailers Association, which represents chains like HMV and Virgin alongside independent record shops, said the decline in CD sales was not a cause for panic.

"To be honest these figures are much better than we had feared," said the organisation's co-chairman, Jim Batchelor.

"The release schedule in the first half of this year was very slow with few big acts delivering albums.

"The fact that, in spite of it all, we're still selling around 10m albums a month shows the resilience of demand."

Could it be that - having made themselves look more than a little ridiculous over the release of the Prince album through the Mail On Sunday, ERA are trying to behave with a little more dignity in public? Still, it's a nice change to see an old music industry body able to adjust to their reduced circumstances without demanding action to shore up the falling sky.

Meanwhile, though:
Paul Williams of Music Week magazine said: "Whether that's by getting revenue coming from artists' concerts, by merchandising, or other ways, they're having to tap into the fact that music is now more popular than ever before but record sales themselves are falling."

We're not sure that you could prove that "music is now more popular than ever before" - the inability of any major TV network to generate an audience for a regular music programme in prime time; the low viewing figures for Live Earth; the dwindling interest in the charts - all of this might suggest that music, while not in trouble, isn't quite as popular as it has been.

But even the BPI are quite upbeat:
Adam White of Universal Music] said that while the industry is experiencing increased pressure, major companies like Universal have to focus on developing unique artists and "imaginative ways to reach the consumer".

He pointed to recent success stories Amy Winehouse, whose Back To Black is the biggest-selling album this year in the UK, and Take That, who sold one million copies of their Beautiful World CD in less than a month.

"To some extent, if you give the people what they want, they will respond," he added.

Although, of course, music is at its best when it's giving you what you didn't know you needed. But you wouldn't look to a major for that.


James said...

HMV's defence today of selling the Mail on Sunday with the Prince covermount is brilliant: See the Media Guardian (may need registration).

"Whether we like it or not, selling the Mail on Sunday next week will be the only way to make the Prince album available to our customers, which, ultimately, has to be our overriding concern," an HMV spokesman said today.

"...surely it makes sense for our industry to try to direct some of its 2 million-plus readers into specialist music stores, where they may well make other purchases, rather than allowing them to be by-passed and to let newsagents and supermarkets gain all the benefit."

Isn't this a bit like a headmaster saying "Well, we don't agree with children buying crack but, by selling it in the school canteen, they might stick around and read a book or learn some history while they're here, rather than let all the trade go to the local dealer"?

M.C. Glammer said...

Nobody in the BPI seems to have a chart showing illegal downloads alongside CD sales, because it seems when downloading was at its height, so were CD sales. Coincidentally, when movies became downloadable, cinema ticket sales hit their highest since the 50s. Can the BPI say 'correlation'?

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