Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Mid-Year Report: Classical Album Sales Down, Digital Tracks Up
Thursday, July 05, 2012 - 06:01 PM
In the first six months of 2012, classical album sales dropped 18.1 percent to 3 million units, according to a mid-year Nielsen SoundScan report released Thursday (3.7 million units were sold in the corresponding period of 2011).
At the same time, sales of digital albums continued to enjoy modest growth — jumping 7.2 percent to 4 million units — but that was not large enough to offset the decline in CD album sales.
Andrea Bocelli had the biggest classical album with "Concerto: One Night in Central Park," selling 66,000 copies, while Josh Grobin had the top-selling digital track with "You Raise Me Up," moving 79,000 downloads.
The figures cover sales up to the week ending on July 1, the half-way point of SoundScan's tracking year.
Across all genres, album sales have dropped 3.2 percent so far this year while downloads have jumped 13.8 percent.
After a surprise 1.3 percent uptick in total sales last year — the first increase since 2004 — the decline this year suggests a return to business as usual for the recording industry. "In the second quarter of this year, the CD album again began to act like it did during 2006-2010, when the format saw annual sales declines in the 18%-20% range," notes Ed Christman of Billboard magazine.
Of the other major genres, only country music and jazz have seen growth in 2012. Country experienced a 5.8 percent increase in album sales while jazz album sales were up 2.6 percent.
Vinyl collectors can also take heart. The format has continued its growth, gaining 14.2 percent; 2.2 million LPs were sold in the first six months of the year, vs. 1.9 million during the corresponding period last year.
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