January 05, 2011

Weekly News Item: 2010 Music Industry Figures

The big news of the week has been performance and sales numbers for 2010. So, what were those results, how do they compare to last year, and what do they mean for the industry?

Album once again dropped, this time by 12.8%. Overall unit sales fell too, the count of any single purchase of a music item whether it's a single, album or video, for the first time. On the other hand, digital album sales saw a 13% growth. Digital single sales, one of the most promising growth areas in past years, slowed and only had a 1% increase in sales. UMG had the biggest market share again and, for the second year in a row, the total share of indies beat out EMI.


On the touring side, it wasn't a great year either. This time last year, concert and touring reports painted a picture of a recession proof part of the industry: touring actually had one it's best years in 2009. Many tours were downsized this year, some were cancelled, and you probably noticed the popularity of last minute decreases in ticket prices just before show time. Despite all these attempts to sell tickets and avoid risk, Billboard still noted a 12% drop in attendance and a 26% drop in gross in 2010.

So essentially, everything faired poorly this year. Part of this could probably be blamed on the economy, but the industry decline has been consistent for a full decade now. It seems obvious that there is no going back to the "good old days" of the past. Sales continue to fall and album (as evidenced by Amazon's recent deals where you could buy albums for as low as $3.99) and ticket prices continue to drop. The question is how long will this go on before the focus moves from fighting to embracing? The model no longer seems to be in line with what consumers want and something has to give or the poor sales will only get worse. Hopefully, this new decade will be one of innovation, cooperation and new business models and can finally create an environment that revitalizes the industry.

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