’Twas less than a week till the New Year would ring,
the year’s final accounting would soon be in…
As we sip our holiday egg nog, patiently waiting for the year-end Nielsen SoundScan bells to toll, let’s take a look at some of the top line results year to date (YTD).
A quick study of our music sales 2013 report grids shows this is destined to be remembered as a disappointing year. Country’s vital sales signs continue to worsen, falling to -10.7%, below the overall industry average which is down -8.5%. The shift to digital purchases, which it was hoped would make up for shrinking physical units seems to have stopped reading its own hype and is also sputtering.
Country digital album sales are down this year -.8%. All genre digital album sales fared slightly better, showing a weak .8% increase. Either way, the digital sales will not make up for the losses in physical product. Tracks have also been lackluster. (See grid.)
These shrinking numbers show that the transactional part of the music industry is once again in free fall. After the Year-End we’ll get into a more precise look, but it’s clear that units and revenue from both physical and digital formats are bleeding badly.
With country album sales down over 10%, one would conclude that the bloom is off the country rose. However, what isn’t shown on our reports is the considerable influence of ancillary income—everything from streaming to touring to merchandise, endorsements, Award show ratings and even guest hosting TV shows.
Oddities and Anomalies
The year had its share of anomalies and oddities. Look at the Top two spots on the current Billboard Top 200 album chart. At No. 1 is Beyonce with 374k units, just shy of one million in two weeks. And at No. 2 is Garth Brooks shifting 199k for a 4-week total of about 681k. Basic sales strategy says create demand via radio first, then launch, but these two superstars broke that rule getting sales success without direct radio support.Beyonce didn’t even release her music to radio, she just went straight to her fans via social media and digital downloads. Garth chose a Wal-Mart exclusive physical package as the best way to connect with his fans.
You can bet that labels and artist teams will be carefully studying these rollouts in the coming year especially as signs increase that the old rules are no longer reliable. For example, we saw one country act work radio for up to 45 weeks, get the multi-week No. 1, but then get stiffed at the cash register.
The Robertsons were prominently in the news over the holidays, but the controversy didn’t appear to hurt sales of the family’s Christmas album which remained at No. 2 on the country list adding almost 132k additional units.
Have a safe and wonderful New Years… see you NEKST year!!!