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Album Sales Show 9.2% Increase In Quarter as Rebound Continues

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On April 5, 2004 @ 6:21 am In Finance,Music | Comments Disabled

WSJ.bmp [1]

Here’s yet another example of a story getting almost zero play (Thank goodness for the WSJ [2]):

Back in December 2003, we noted that CD sales were rising as the economy strengthened [3]. That healthy trend continued, as we mentioned in February [4]. For the quarter, we saw album sales gain another +9.2%, year over year, Q1 2004:

“A rebound in music sales that began in September appears to be continuing, according to data to be released today by Nielsen SoundScan.

Album sales for the first quarter rose 9.2% from a year earlier, with strong gains in sales of both current and older albums. Total sales for the quarter reached 158 million copies, up from 144.7 million for the first quarter of 2003.

The music industry has been battling a sales decline that began in 2000, and has been trying a variety of strategies to turn it around. Among them are continuing lawsuits against alleged online pirates, enforcement actions against pirates of physical CDs and efforts to lower consumer prices.

Of course, regardless of the positive data, the industry refuses to acknowledge what is happening with sales or why. If they did, they would lose their legislative leverage in DC:

“Despite the favorable results, the music industry is far from out of the woods. “At least through September, the industry will have an easy time beating last year’s numbers,” said Geoff Mayfield, Billboard magazine’s director of charts and senior analyst. “We had weak numbers throughout the first eight months of last year.”

The industry continues to cut back. Yesterday, EMI Group PLC announced it was cutting 1,500 jobs, or 20% of its work force, and dropping weak acts from its roster. Warner Music Group also is in the midst of deep personnel cuts.

One particularly noteworthy performance this week came from R&B singer Usher, whose “Confessions” became the second album in as many months to sell more than one million copies its first week in stores. Norah Jones’s “Feels Like Home” in February also sold more than a million copies its first week in stores; that debut marked the first time in two years that an album had done so.

Strong new titles like these have been a factor in the sales bounce, but they aren’t the entire story. Sales of older titles, known in the industry as catalog, also surged 8% from a year earlier, according to SoundScan. Music companies and retailers are said to have experimented with lower pricing on new and catalog titles, though the music companies generally don’t share wholesale pricing information.”


Album Sales Show 9.2% Increase In Quarter as Rebound Continues [2]


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URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2004/04/album-sales-show-92-increase-in-quarter-as-rebound-continues/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://online.wsj.com/home/us

[2] WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB108071645185870088,00.html

[3] CD sales were rising as the economy strengthened: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2003/12/music_sales_ris.html

[4] February: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2004/02/cd_sales_rise_b.html

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