According to stats recently shared with Digital Music News by Nielsen Soundscan, more than two-thirds (or 67 percent) of all vinyl albums in the US were sold by indie record stores last year. And this is a booming niche: last year, vinyl sales reached 3.9 million units, the biggest mark in two decades and a 39 percent gain over 2010. That’s still about one-percent of broader album sales, but a rare example of growth in the physical category.
> Check out the comparison diagrams: http://digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120118vinylindie
The good news comes from NARM president Jim Donio, who shared the latest sales figures with Digital Music News on Wednesday evening. These are US-based, year-over-year figures, calculated by Nielsen Soundscan, and they just keep getting better.
Now, the question is whether this spills into the all-important holiday season. In other words, can this last? “This is the 18th week in a row where year-to-date album volume is greater than the prior year,” Donio relayed. “With the holiday season fast approaching, all signs point to that growth continuing going forward.”
And what about revenues? The 3.4 percent figure only refers to cumulative, full album purchases, of any configuration, without associated price points. That means digital, physical, CD, LP, whatever, all counted as one discrete unit. On the a-la-carte side, year-over-year gains stand at 11 percent.
The bad apple, of course, is physical. Now, the hope is that plummeting CDs finally calm down and bottom out, while digital helps to establish some sort of floor. Already, there’s some talk of increased confidence at major labels, with the massive advertising increase at Universal Music Group one possible reaction.
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One thing’s clear: Nielsen Soundscan doesn’t count every last album sale. That would be impossible. But are they somehow missing this vast number of unsigned and indie albums (and singles), and grossly skewing our picture of who’s winning?
That’s been a longtime argument from two of the front-running digital distributors, Tunecore and CD Baby. In fact, just last week, CD Baby and Disc Makers president Tony Van Veen was making this case in response to a story on CD sales. “One of the problems with all numbers quoted is that a huge number of releases, artists, and revenues fly completely below the Soundscan/RIAA radar, and are never reported on,” Van Veen asserted. “But last year Disc Makers alone released over 50,000 new CD titles, probably several hundred times the output of all the so-called major labels and major indies.”
But the learning of the last few years is that if you press it, upload it, or otherwise distribute it, they may not come. In fact, they probably won’t even notice. Last year at New Music Seminar in New York, Nielsen Soundscan pointed to a vast number of albums that sold 0 or 1 copies – in a year – and just 1,215 that crossed the 10,000-mark Read More