Posts filed under “Music”

US versus UK CD sales

The 2004 numbers are now out for CD sales in the U.S., and they are rather interesting: U.S. CD sales rose by 2.3% in 2004; It was the first rise in four years, but far below the 8% year over year gains we saw in the first quarter of the year.

The CD format still accounts for 98% of the 666 million albums sold, according to research company Nielsen Soundscan. A total of 140 million digital tracks were legally downloaded last year, equivalent to 14 million albums . . . By the end of the year, purchased downloads reached a weekly high of 6.7 million tracks, up from 300,000 in mid-2003.

Among the top 5 selling U.S. CDs were Usher (#1) and Eminem (#3) — both heavily downloaded on P2P networks.

It gets even more intriguing when you compare music industry results here in the States with those in Great Britain: "The UK enjoyed a record year for album sales in 2004, with 237 million sold in the 12 months up to September, an increase of 3%."

Note that the U.K. population is 60 million people, while the U.S. has under 300 million people. With a population only 20% the size of the United States, the British buy 37% as many CDs as we do. On a per capita basis, U.K. music fans consume nearly twice as many CDs as do their U.S. counterparts

Why is that? How is it that they are setting records — despite vibrant broadband penetration, and widespread access to P2P services — while the U.S. remains far below 1999 levels?

I suspect three factors:

A more vibrant, less consolidated broadcast radio music scene (No Clear Channel Radio);

Less mass produced corporate McMusic so prevalent on the radio in the States — from Ashlee Simpson to insipid Boy Bands;

A robust economic expansion. The U.S. ’90s bubble was far more muted in the U.K., so its after effects are also less insidious.

It doesn’t take much digging to see that the claims of the music industry re: P2P have been greatly exaggerated…

Category: Music

EW names Grey Album the Record of the Year

Category: Music

U.S. Album Sales Slightly Positive for 2004

Category: Music

DVDs continue to cannibalize CDs

Category: Film, Music

Music Industry Responding (slowly) to Pricing Issues

Category: Finance, Music

A Different Kind of Top 10 Music List For 2004

It’s year’s end, and that means list time.

The annoying thing about the ubiquitous year end list — best Books, best Movies, best Albums — is that they tend to be compiled by people who read, watch or listen to stuff for a living.

Most of the listed items are nanoseconds old. And while that’s de rigueur for someone who does that professionally, it has little correlation to the lives the rest of us lead. Gotta job, family, obligations? Then you probably don’t get to listen to hundreds of new releases each year. Good luck then, making an intelligent top 10 list.

Movies? The days of waiting on line opening night are long since gone for this old man. A majority of the films I ended up renting, buying or pay-per-viewing this year were not 2004 releases. Wanna make a helpful list for me? Tell me the best stuff on HBO next weekend; Knowing 2004′s most critically acclaimed Eastern European documentaries is of little use for most people.

OK, rant over. Here’s a different kind of top 10 list; these favorite CDs are what actually got listened to in 2004. While a few of these came out this year, that wasn’t a requirement. These are what actually spent the most time this year on the iPod or in the CD player of a person with a job and an ever decreasing amount of spare time.

The task was made infinitely easier by iTunes, which shows me the chronological order of when CDs were ripped, and purchases made via ITMS, or downloads via a P2P service, as well as the number of plays each song got. Incidentally, the correlation between my downloaded P2P tunes and subsequent CD purchases is extremely high; I’ll bet others have had similar experiences. Don’t expect an RIAA study looking into that phenomenon anytime soon . . .

Anyway, on to the top 10 list:.

~ ~ ~

Roman Candle  Says Pop

Roman Candle’s debut is a joyful assortment of finely crafted pop
tunes. If FM Radio didn’t suck, this is the sort of music you would be
hearing on it right now. Finely crafted lyrics mated to delightful
melodies delivered by a tight power pop five-some in a surprisingly
slick production. Like nearly all the discs on this list, this one is
really good from start to finish.

Why didn’t you ever hear of these guys? Roman Candle hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and signed with an independent label. No payola, no Clearchannel — and no radio play.

Roman Candle   Says Pop
(2002)

Bonus:  I discovered Roman Candle through BBC 2’s Bob Harris Check him out.

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Category: Music

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