April 8, 2006

2005 Album Sales...

by Chris Randall

We were discussing this a couple months ago, using older numbers. Here are the just-released digits for 2005 from Soundscan for total albums sold. Note that the vast majority of vanity releases from bands, and releases from ultra-small labels (like Positron) are not included in these numbers. Soundscan is obviously only going to track albums that are in the Soundscan system. That said, there is some food for thought here:

-Total albums released in 2005: 60,331

-Of the 60,331 albums released in 2005, 16,580 (27.5%) were digital-only releases.

-Of the 16,580 digital-only releases, 2,935 (18%) were from major labels and 13,645 (82%) were from independents.

-Of the 16,580 digital-only releases, the TOTAL combined units sold = 865,424 units = an average of approximately 52 units / release.

-Of the 60,331 albums released in 2005, 11,070 (18.4%) were from the 4 majors and 49,261 (81.6%) from the independents.

-The 11,070 new releases issued in 2005 by the majors averaged 18,454 units per release.

-The 49,261 new releases issued in 2005 by the independents averaged 787 units per release.

-In 2005, 32 NEW titles generated sales of more than 1 million units, collectively selling 57.2 million.
Those top 32 albums averaged 1.79 million each.

-An additional 62 titles achieved sales of more than 500,000 units, and an additional 316 titles achieved sales more than 100,000 units.

-A total of 410 albums (0.7%) - of the 60,331 released achieved sales greater than 100,000 units.

-These 410 albums had combined sales of 169.2 million units, with an average of approximately 413,000 units each.

-These 410 albums represented 70% of all sales of new releases.




Apr.08.2006 @ 11:25 PM
Cool story. Digital only = download only?


Apr.09.2006 @ 2:03 AM
So 0.7% of all albums account for 70% of all sales? Now that's a statistic.

Synthetic: I'm pretty sure digital only = download only; wouldn't make sense any other way.


Apr.09.2006 @ 2:37 AM
Chris Randall
"Digital only," as far as Soundscan is concerned, is an album purchased via iTunes, MSN, or one of the other similar sites. It doesn't include subscription based time-limited sites like Real's offerings. Since 93% of all digital album sales are via iTunes, you can really just go ahead and say "Digital only = iTunes"



Apr.09.2006 @ 9:35 AM
This stats don't mean anything. Digital distribution empowers independent labels, following a Long Tail model, and those numbers aren't shown here.

Apr.09.2006 @ 11:39 AM
Chris Randall
That's because the numbers are insignificant. You can't fool me. I own a label that does exactly that, and I know what the digits are.

In any case, a number that _is_ significant is the massive quantity of long tail material moved by CD Baby. That company moves a _lot_ of product in ones and twos, both in meatspace and via iTunes, and none of it is caught by Soundscan. It would definitely slew the indie numbers, but the net effect might make everything look even worse, since the average CD Baby artist only sells two or three albums a year.




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