Happy New Year!! It is a new year and we all have a ton to look forward to. New years resolutions to keep. More birthdays, more opportunities, and more chances to fulfill your lifelong dreams. I am excited about what is in store for everyone. I am also excited to see what new music comes out. Ever since I was a kid, I always kept a list of all the upcoming music releases for the new year. Stuff to look forward to. Dates to circle on my calendar. Another reason to run to the record store. Nothing is better than buying, then listening to an album you anticipated for quite some time….especially if it is a good album! 2013 was a great year for music. Many artists released some great albums! Unfortunately it was a low year for revenue from sales. 2013 was the first year we saw a decrease in digital sales. Ever since music started to be sold online in a digital download format, the industry has seen a steady and healthy growth of continued increases in digital sales each year. Not in 2013. Digital sales dropped this past year. Why? So much great music came out!! You would think that consumers bought some of the great music released. But, that was not quite the case. Although overall digital sales dropped, it is not attributed to bad music, or lack of consumer demand. Hopefully with some of the anticipated upcoming music releases of 2014 from Bruce Springsteen, Adele, U2, Dr. Dre, Linkin Park, Taylor Swift, Beck, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z & Kanye West collaboration, and rumored releases from Metallica, Motely Crue, Snoop Dogg, Radiohead, and a posthumous release from 2pac, we might see a rebound in digital sales.
2013 was the first year since online music retailer iTunes starting selling music in the U.S. that it ended the year with a decrease in sales. This came somewhat as a surprise to industry insiders because although single digital track sales had a historic low in first three quarters of 2013, the digital album sales in the first quarter of 2013 were strong due to album bundle sales (artists only selling full albums or making certain songs exclusive to only buying the complete album). 2013 digital single track sales fell 5.7% from 1.34 billion units sold in 2012 to 1.26 billion units sold in 2013. But, digital album sales fell only 0.1% to 117.6 million units to 117.7 million units sold in 2012.
Music industry executives and insiders early in 2013 were at initially reluctant to attribute the decrease in digital sales to lack of demand to own music due to an increase in streaming. But by the second half of last year, it was clear that the many new ad-supported and paid subscription-streaming sites were the main cause of low music sales. According to this recent article in Billboard.biz, “While SoundScan has not yet released its annual streaming numbers, so far industry executives have been reporting that the growth in streaming revenue has been offsetting the decline in digital sales revenue.”
Album sales suffered a decline in 2013 as well. Complete albums sales declined 8.4% this year, dropping to 289.4 million units, from 2012’s figures of about 316 million units. It is no surprise that physical CD sales dropped at a greater percentage in 2013, 14.5%, 165.4 million units sold, from 2012’s figures of 193.4 million units. Good news is that we continue to see a healthy growth in vinyl sales.
Vinyl sales continued it’s recent steady incline into 2013, rising from 4.55 million units in 2012, to 6 million units sold in 2013. Vinyl sales now comprise over 2% of total album sales in United States. While digital albums comprise 40.6%, physical CD’s at 57.2%, and rounding out the last 0.2% with cassette tapes and DVDs.
I have started to see more artists’ the last couple years release their music on cassettes. Still a small amount of artists, but a steady trend of cassettes being sold more each year.
Although some of these figures might be demoralizing for some musicians and recording artists, don’t fret because there is some good news in the music sales world. There was an increase in million selling albums in 2013, from 2012’s figures. In 2012 there were 10 albums that reached a million albums sold. In 2013 there were 13 albums that reached platinum status (1 million albums sold). But according to Billboard biz, only 1 album this past year sold more than 1 million units, which was Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience, with 2.4 million units.
We did have a few songs sell like wild-fire and become anthems for the year. In 2013, 106 songs sold 1 million units, where as in 2012 108 songs sold 1 million units. The biggest selling song of 2013, selling about 6.5 million units, was Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” featuring T.I. & Pharrell. Indie rap phenom Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop,” came in second with about 6.1 million units sold, and the third best-selling song was Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive,” selling 5.5 million units. 2012’s biggest song was Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” which sold about 6.8 million units.
As usual, Universal had the largest market share with 38.9%. Their large market share was helped by Universal Music’s acquisition of Capitol Music Group. Sony BMG had the second largest market share of 2013 with 29.5%, and Warner Music Group came in last of the three major record labels, with 18.7% market share. Indie labels accounted for 12.3% of the market share for albums sold in 2013. Good news for indie record labels is when you look at market share by label ownership, indie record labels are expected to have about 35% market share in 2013.
R&B/Hip-Hop saw a growth in music sales in 2013. Hip-Hop/R&B album sales grew last year 1.2% to 50.7 million units, from 2012’s figures of 50.1 million units in 2012. This was a small percent of growth, but considering that album sales declined 8.4% in 2013, it is actually an impressive number. Electronic Dance Music was the only other genre to outperform the U.S. album market in 2013. EDM, as Electronic Dance Music is collectively known as, declined 0.3% to 8.8 million units last year. Rock music dropped a bit 5.9% for the year to 100.8 million units sold.
Music industry veterans and executives are noticing the trend of online stores like iTunes taking a larger market share away from traditional physical music stores. Not only are there less and less record stores around today, but big box retailers like Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. are consolidating their CD sections and selling less and less music every year. Go walk into any one of these stores and tell me you can’t notice how their music section has shrunk. According to Billboard Biz.com, “Despite the decline in digital album sales, download stores like iTunes gained market share growing to 40.6% of U.S album sales, while mass merchants like Target
and Wal-Mart saw sales drop 16.3% to about 78 million units and now comprise nearly 27% market share; with chain stores like Best Buy and Trans World seeing sales decline by nearly 20% to 39 million album units to comprise 13.5% market share. Meanwhile non-traditional CD merchants like Amazon, Starbucks and concert venues saw album sales increase by 2.4% to 36.5 million units; and indie merchants dropped by nearly 12% to 18.3 million units. Respectively, the former comprises 12.6% of album sales while the latter accounts for 6.3%.”