Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good news for recording artists... sales slump may be overrated

Here is a guest post from my friend, veteran engineer/producer Ronny Light. It's a counterpoint look at the question of record sales slump so heavily reported by the media these days. You can email Ronny at ronnylight@earthlink.net.

Are record sales up or down? You may be surprised to find unit sales are at an all time high. See attached RIAA Sales Figures. /RIAA%20Sales%20Figures.pdf

So how could sales revenue be down? If you want your favorite artist's new 10 song CD, you will pay up to the suggested list price of $16, more often
$12 to $14. That will buy you the one song you want and 9 others you don't necessarily want. Or you can download the single you want for 99 cents.
The latest 10 song CD can be downloaded for $9.99.

CD sales are down 19% from 2006 to 2007 but digital downloads are up 49%.
The customer has shifted from buying overpriced CDs to buying just the songs they want for a much lower price.

The major US outlet for CDs, Wal-Mart, recently told labels CD prices are too high, and if they didn't reduce the price, Wal-Mart would reduce their inventory or stop selling CDs altogether. At a time when all the mom and pop record stores are out of business, that is devastating news.

This is no surprise to people who have paid attention. When CDs were introduced they were priced higher than LPs because, the labels told us, there were startup costs involved in building CD manufacturing plants. Like the "temporary" Federal Income Tax, CD prices have never gone down after the CD plant startup costs were recovered.

Something the labels don't tell you is that they make a much higher profit on downloaded songs than they do on physical sales. Think about the cost of manufacturing a CD, shipping across the country, and dealing with returns.
Compare that to having a CD available for download where there are no manufacturing costs, no shipping costs, and no returns.

And here are this week's bad news sales reports for Country music that only includes the top 25 albums.

7 MILLION SALES
Carrie Underwood - Some Hearts
Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden

5 MILLION SALES
Garth Brooks - The Ultimate Hits

3 MILLION SALES
Taylor Swift - Taylor Swift

2 MILLION SALES
Rascal Flatts - Still Feels Good
Sugarland - Enjoy The Ride
Carrie Underwood - Carnival Ride

500,000 SALES (GOLD)
Rodney Atkins - If You're Going Through Hell Reba McEntire - Reba Duets Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex Girlfriend Trace Adkins - American Man: Greatest Hits Vol. II Robert Plant/Alison Krauss - Raising Sand Brad Paisley - 5th Gear George Strait - Troubadour Kenny Chesney - Who I Am: Poets & Pirates

That means 15 of the top 25 Country albums have gone gold or better. That's 60% of the top 25 Country albums that have gone gold or better. These are tough times indeed for the record business and Country music.

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