2006-07 CD Sales
2007 by Keith Holzman,
Holzman Solutions Unlimited.
Back to The
I was astounded by the huge quantity of new titles released last year
reported by Ed Christman in the May 12 issue of Billboard. By the
online version has much more information than was published
in the print
startling 75,774 new titles were released in 2006, almost 26 percent more
than in the previous year, and more than double the 33,443 released five
years earlier. In fact there's been a steady upsurge of new titles during the
last five years. Whereas there was an increase of only five percent from 2001
to 2002 the numbers have gone up markedly. The greatest increase was between
2004 and 2005 when almost 36 percent more titles were issued.
look reveals more surprises and some curiosities. Whereas lots more titles
were released last year, actual sales of these new items were off 23 million
units, a drop of almost ten percent. Further, almost 25 thousand new titles
were digital-only releases, and these resulted in a mere 1.22 million units
sold -- an abysmal average of not quite 50 units per title.
perspective. 85 percent (64,554) of all titles released were from independent
labels. The remaining 11,230 were from the majors. This is rather consistent
in that the ratio of indie to total titles has remained between 78 to 85
percent for the last six years.
But an even closer look at the numbers is
Only 364 titles last year sold 100,000 or more units --
essentially the same as in the previous year. These titles scanned a total
of 149.4 million units. Looked at another way, this means that half of one
percent of all titles released last year accounted for almost 68 percent of
all new-release sales. Indie labels represented 28 of those titles, six of
which sold more than 250,000 units.
A scarier fact is that 55,516 (more
than 73 percent) of new releases sold 100 or fewer units! 4364 of those
titles were from the majors, the remaining 51,152 were from independent
Overall, new major label titles averaged 26,895 units sold,
while indie titles averaged 2603. Adding to the gloom, CD sales are off
17 percent so far this
a slightly brighter note, classical (traditional and crossover) sales rose
more than 22 percent between 2005 and 2006. This is quite surprising
considering that overall sales declined and that there were fewer retail
outlets in which classical CDs are typically sold. In part the improvement is
due to a significant gain of digital downloads which in 2006 were almost 109
percent greater than in 2005.
And while there were fewer bricks and
mortar retailers from which to buy CDs, part of the slack was taken up by a
big increase of classical music sales at Amazon.com, which recently launched
a classical "Blowout" section at reduced prices for certain
Meanwhile, despite the CD decline, there remains a
significant audience who prefer to buy their music in this "collector's"
form. It's particularly true for classical and jazz because there isn't
the "single" mentality that's perhaps more meaningful to a
younger audience looking for the one hit song in a new release by
their favorite artist. The classical and jazz buyer likes to read
extensive liner notes and lyrics (when they exist,) and look at artist
photos and exciting graphics.
Paul Resnikoff, wrote an excellent piece
about the survival of the CD
in the May 10th edition of Digital Music
"The CD still has a place in a larger ecosystem. Few cars lack in-dash
CD players, computers universally support their playback, and many fans
still buy discs despite harboring immense digital collections. Somehow,
a coexistence makes sense for many music fans.
"But what doesn't
make sense anymore are the strings attached to the CD. These are aspects
that are not necessarily inherent to the CD format, though they are
intricately part of the consumer buying decision.
example lies in product packaging. Why don't CDs carry lyrics files,
images, and videos? And why do they carry a relatively limited number of
tracks? The typical CD seems a bit bare bones, but the technology itself
can support all of these extras and more.
"But toss that baggage
aside and place a CD in the hands of the consumer, and everything works
perfectly. Interoperability is guaranteed, and buyers can easily shift
between different environments. One executive astutely pointed out that
the CD, for all of its outmoded and old-fashioned criticisms, actually
offers far better universality than most paid download services. The
point is, there's nothing horribly wrong with this format, and large
sections of the consumer population are incredibly comfortable with
To keep this collector audience, it's important
that labels produce
the best albums that they can afford to print and
filling them with music that consumers will be inspired to
and adding as much value-added content as possible. And if
more to experience makes me old fashioned, so be it.
Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited
Helping Record Labels
Manage for Success
Copyright 2007 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights
reserved. Adapted from "Manage for Success," Newsletter #73,
Keith Holzman is the principal of Solutions Unlimited, a management
consultant specializing in the recording industry. A trusted advisor
and troubleshooter, he is a seasoned music business senior executive
with extensive experience in all aspects of running a label. He was
President of ROM Records, Managing Director of Discovery Records,
Senior Vice President of Elektra, and Director of Nonesuch Records.
He publishes "Manage for Success," a free monthly email newsletter
devoted to solving problems of the record industry. You can subscribe
at his website <http://www.holzmansolutions.com>. Keith is a member
of the Institute of Management Consultants and has served as a
panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a board
member of many arts organizations. He can be reached at
Keith is also the author of the recently published "The Complete
Guide to Starting a Record Company" available both as a 235-page,
printed spiral-bound book, as well as a downloadable E-Book.