Dedicated to classics and hits.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Gravity of Music Sales

   I've been spending alot of time looking at the Billboard Chart- it's a 50 page weekly document, smuggled to me on occasion my sympathetic parties.  Billboard keeps those statistics a secret, to the point where I don't think you can even write about them without permission- if at all- ever- but I think it's fair to talk about general trends or "laws" if you will.

 Probably the primary law of music sales is that they diminish over time.  This is a law that is not exclusive to the music business, and wasn't even established by the music business, but rather it is an import from the film industry. That would make the prototype for the Billboard Chart the "Box Office Receipts" chart.

  One of the consequences of digital music is that it has increased the number of available products, but the actual number of weekly sales it takes to "Chart" is around 500 +/-.  I think it is fair to say that the movements by this group of 500 selling artists is similar to artists who are selling 200 or 300 albums a week.  Nor are those artists at the bottom of a digital sales chart old timers getting off after a long run.  The last 10 entries are all first week artists.   There are major label artists at the bottom of the digital chart, there are indie labels- they are all selling something like 500 albums in the first week out.  Now keep in mind, that's just for albums- the threshold for singles is more like 7500.

  But whatever that first week number is, it's going to go DOWN after that.  If it actually goes UP over time, that is a hit.  Everything else is just going down from whatever the sales were in the first week of release.  The only question is "by what percentage does it decline?"  I don't know the answer- I would guess the average is something like 30%- maybe higher.

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