Shrinking Physical Space Boosts Independent Digital Sales

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The music industry has seen significant changes over the last decade, with the rise of digital streaming services and the decline of physical album sales. Independent artists have been particularly affected by these changes, but there is some good news. According to recent reports, independent artists are experiencing elevated digital album sales levels, thanks in part to shrinking physical retail inventory.

For many independent artists, digital album sales are becoming increasingly important. The Shins, for example, recently scored a second-place finish on the US-based album charts, thanks in part to strong digital album sales. Overall album sales for the group totaled 119,000, of which 35,000 were digital. These percentages are becoming more and more common for independent artists, and shrinking floor space at big box retailers will only further the trend.

During a recent executive forum in Park City, Utah, Nettwerk chief Terry McBride explained that a lot of physical accounts will not take records. “A Wal-Mart or a Target won’t bring more than a thousand titles,” McBride said. He also noted that retail footprint is going away, echoing sentiments expressed by Yahoo Music chief David Goldberg, who pointed to a similar effect at mega-retailers. “Once CDs stop drawing people in, there’s less reason for stores to keep large collections on their floor,” Goldberg said during a digital music conference in Los Angeles.

The disappearance of Tower Records and the squeeze on smaller stores means that there are fewer opportunities to sell discs. The result, according to McBride, is heavier traffic online for less-than-blockbuster content. “Kids can’t find the record, so they go online,” the manager said, pointing to a subsequent jump in both legal and illegal transactions.

Ironically, this trend could cause independent artists to further deemphasize physical retail campaigns, a trend that will continue to boost digital sales percentages. As physical album sales decline, independent artists are increasingly turning to digital platforms to sell their music. This shift has its benefits, as artists no longer need to rely on physical retailers to reach their audience.

However, the rise of digital album sales also presents new challenges for independent artists. With so much music available online, it can be difficult for independent artists to stand out from the crowd. Online promotion and marketing are essential for independent artists looking to increase their digital sales. Social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube can be powerful tools for reaching new fans and promoting new music.

Another challenge for independent artists is piracy. While many music fans are willing to pay for digital downloads, there are still those who choose to download music illegally. This can be particularly damaging for independent artists, who rely on album sales to make a living. Copyright infringement is a serious issue, and it’s important for independent artists to take steps to protect their work from piracy.

Despite these challenges, independent artists are finding success in the digital age. With the right promotion and marketing, independent artists can reach a wider audience than ever before. And as physical album sales continue to decline, digital sales will only become more important for independent artists looking to make a living from their music.