RIAA: Streaming, Subscription Revenues Topped $800 Million In 2012
According to projected Nielsen SoundScan data, recorded music sales dropped slightly in 2012 compared to 2011, while album sales appear to have held relatively steady over the last three years. This suggests that, while the music industry continues to face a sales decline, it is not as drastic as many analysts feared just several years ago. In fact, as the recorded music industry has evolved and overall sales measurement has shifted, there are some very significant ways in which consumers are accessing and purchasing music that are not reflected in overall sales figures. As Recording Industry Association of America [RIAA] VP Joshua Friedlander said this week, "these include such subscription services as Rhapsody and Spotify, streaming services like Pandora and iHeartRadio, and thousands of online radio stations, mobile purchases like ringtones and ringbacks, and on-demand services like Youtube and Vevo." Based on total dollars, subscription, mobile, and digital performance royalties accounted for more than $800 million (12%) of the $7 billion U.S. music market last year. "That contribution is likely to continue rising as those services continued growing in users and listener hours in 2012," Friedlander explained. "All this collectively demonstrates an industry that has diversified how it does business and offers fans music in a staggering array of models and services." [Full story: RIAA]
U.K. Digital Music Sales Jump, While CD Album Sales Slip
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) last week reported that U.K. music consumers bought 188.6 million singles last year, a 6% increase over the 177.9 million purchased in 2011. Digital downloads constituted 97.2% of the market, with 7" vinyl (0.1%), CD singles (0.3%), and "other" (2.4%) making up the remainder. Interestingly, 2012 was the fifth successive year of singles sales increases in the U.K. By contrast, album sales continued to slip, with sales of 100.5 million, a 11.2% decrease from 2011. The main contributing factor to this drop was the decline in overall CD sales, with only 69.4 million albums sold on CD last year, down 19.5% from 2011's 86.2 million. Overall digital download album sales climbed 14.8% to 30.5 million vs. the previous year, but CDs remained the most popular format with album buyers, accounting for more than two-thirds (69.1%) of total sales, compared to a 30.4% share for digital albums and 0.4% for vinyl LPs. Meanwhile, streaming clearly is playing a much bigger part in music fans' lives, as BPI says Brits streamed more than 3.7 billion tracks in 2012, representing an average of 140 music streams for every U.K. household. Since approximately 2.6 billion audio streams were delivered in the U.K. in 2011, music consumption from such services as Spotify grew by around 30%in 2012. [Full story: Next Web]
Irving Azoff Leaves Live Nation: "No More Public Companies"
Irving Azoff (right), the executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, this week announced he will be leaving the company, effective immediately. As part of his exit, Liberty Media - one of Live Nation's largest shareholders - will buy 1.7 million of Azoff's 2.6 million shares, giving Liberty a 26.4% stake in the company. Azoff has been one of the most visible and powerful executives and artist managers in the recorded music industry for four decades, and Live Nation has been only his most recent endeavor. As reported by the New York Times, Azoff - along with Michael Rapino, who remains Live Nation's chief executive - helped organize the 2010 merger of the company with Ticketmaster. Citing taxes and estate planning, Azoff told the Times that "It's no secret that I haven't been a fan of public companies for some time. I looked at my calendar for the beginning of next year and I was able to clear 90 days for things that went into dealing with a public company, which I can now devote to productive work. I'm never going to work for a public company again...any public company." Azoff will be joining the board of Starz, the cable television company also owned by Liberty Media, and will remain on the boards of directors of Clear Channel Communications and IMG. [Full story: New York Times]
Billboard: Joining Spotify Likely Caused Metallica's Sales To Drop
Many artists long have maintained that such subscription services as Spotify and Deezer cannibalize album sales, and if Metallica's recent experience is any indication, they may be right. A recent Billboard.biz analysis of Nielsen SoundScan data for Metallica's studio albums for four-week periods leading up to Christmas from 2008 to 2012 shows album sales were 15% below expectations the week the titles were added to Spotify and 35% below expectations the following week. Looked at another way, Metallica's traditional sales the week before Christmas have been from 48.8% to 71.1% higher than the average of the preceding three weeks (64.8% in 2008, 71.1% in 2009, 48.8% in 2010, and 53.6% in 2011). But those same albums increased only 28.5% in 2012. The most obvious explanation for the sales drop is that fans streamed Metallica's catalog at Spotify instead of buying the albums but, as Billboard.biz points out, the SoundScan week in 2012 was further away from Christmas than in earlier years. which may have contributed to the discrepancy. In 2008, for example, the Sunday that marks the end of the SoundScan sales week fell on the 21st, just four days before Christmas. Years in which the sales week ended closer to Christmas were naturally more likely to reflect late holiday shopping. But this effect probably doesn't explain the entire decrease because Metallica's catalog pre-Christmas gain actually increased in 2011 to 53.6%, while the sample declined to 31.0% in 2012. [Full story: Billboard.biz]
Audiophile Develops Technique To Print MP3s To Resin Records
Several weeks ago (Dec. 20) this publication reported on a new app that purportedly gives digital music files the "feel of vinyl" by including traditional clicks and pops in the audio. Not to be outdone, Amanda Ghassaei, an assistant tech editor for the project-sharing site Instructables.com, has developed a technique to print some of her MP3s onto resin records. According to Discovery News, Ghassaei began her quest by writing a program that imports raw audio data from the music file, performs calculations to generate the geometry of a 12-inch record, and then exports that geometry to a 3-D printable file format. Then, to print the actual records, she used an Objet Connex500 resin printer to produce 33-1/3 RPM discs that can be played on regular turntables. She admits the process still needs refining, since there's a constant "whisking and scratching" sound that reduces the audio quality to about 25% of the original MP3. Click here to see her video demo, including songs by The Pixies and Nirvana. [Full story: Discovery]
Al Bell Presents American Soul Music ... And American Soul TV
If you're into classic and contemporary Soul, R&B, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop Soul, Rap Soul, and Neo-Soul, we invite you to listen to Al Bell Presents American Soul Music. Former Stax Records owner and Motown Records Group President Al Bell personally has programmed this awesome radio station online, presenting your favorites from the 1960s and '70s [and some '80s], a lot of the best new music that's being released today, and some real gems you haven't heard in a long, long time. Come to www.AlBellPresents.Com and hear it for yourself!