There’s now even more proof that for early-stage artists, the money is probably not in recordings. That is, unless there’s serious financial or label backing involved.
In 2011, 76,875 albums were released and sold at least one copy in the US, according to stats shared by Nielsen Soundscan. These releases came from major and indie labels, as well as unsigned artists, as long as they were properly registered and set up with identifiers like UPC barcodes.
That group of 76,875 albums collectively went on to sell about 113 million copies in the US.
Of that total, sales of roughly 100 million, or 88.5%, came from just 1,500 releases, or 1.9% of the release total.
Which means that, roughly speaking, 2% of releases accounted for 90% of new release sales.