Also: Sketchy Statistics, Live Inflation, Bad Brands, Eventbrite, Mixshape, Spotify, JT, Music Matters…

Just a few weeks ago, global trade group IFPI proudly announced that recording sales actually increased for the first time in 13 years.  But are those stats correct?  On Tuesday, the RIAA pointed to a modest US-based decline of nearly one percent in 2012 recording sales (to $7.2 million), just moments after German trade group BMVI pointed to a 3.2 percent decline over the same period. Earlier, the UK-based BPI outlined a sizable, 11.2 percent drop last year.  These are among the biggest music markets, though other question marks are dangling over the IFPI figures…

Anyway, back to the US-based stats, the RIAA has published some mildly-interesting, year-2012 figures.  That includes continued gains across digital formats, with downloads (singles and albums) both gaining but quickly losing steam.  In 2013, track download sales are now declining, according to stats first unearthed by Digital Music News.

On the streaming side, it looks like ‘access’ formats now account for 15 percent of overall recorded music sales in the US, also according to the RIAA.  That includes everything from Pandora to Spotify.  More stats ahead.

And what else was being discussed at Canadian Music Week, which wrapped in Toronto last weekend?  Amidst full-day, dedicated touring discussions, the troubled Live Nation remained a conversation starter.  After disclosing another disastrous, $163.2 million loss for 2012, not to mention absolutely dangerous debt levels, some discussion now surrounds the insane, Powerball-style packages enjoyed by the Live Nation president & CEO Michael Rapino ($11.9 million in 2011), Ticketmaster president Nathan Hubbard ($4.1 million in 2011), and a handful of others, not to mention one outrageously expensive parachute for exiting chairman Irving Azoff (Rapino’s just-purchased, $14.7 million Brentwood mansion pictured above).

One insider noted that part of the problem is that the Live Nation board is ‘unstable and snoozing’ at the moment, especially with a string of high-profile exits and entrances.  That means ‘not a leash around’ to curb Rapino-like ransoms or questionable decisions, or, to exercise the necessary shaking up.

Then there’s the ticketing front.  Ticketfly had a huge presence at CMW, and this is a company whose disruptive threat seems to be getting more serious by the day.  Bob Lefsetz, a staple at the event, seems to have mellowed after famously ripping Ticketmaster president Nathan Hubbard to shreds, though insiders still question whether Hubbard’s penchant for barking orders, hurling tantrums, and cultivating a general climate of fear are coming at the expense of genuinely innovative market responses.

And what’s happening with that other massively disruptive ticketing upstart, Eventbrite?  This is a company that desperately wants to expand beyond ticketing bake sales and into Ticketmaster-level terrain, but that’s tricky business.  Anyway, you’ll be hearing a peep from these guys a bit later…

Other CMW threads surrounded brands, with a huge range of opinions on what they can do for artists and the music industry in general.  David Lowery and Christian Castle were among those crusading against piracy-supporting brands, and perhaps fittingly, Digital Music News published a big piece on Chevrolet‘s support of Grooveshark‘s mobile initiatives during the event.  Plenty of others continued to hail brands as big saviors and supporters, despite some obvious mismatches in goals and objectives.  One thing’s for certain: these aren’t the new labels, if anyone wanted that.

And the rush to help the masses manage all that music continues.  The latest comes from Microsoft, Spotify, and the Echo Nest, a consortium that just birthed MixShape.  This highly-visual solution analyzes your pile of songs, and arranges them in the perfect playlist, not to mention some mood-based slicing-and-dicing.  The project concept is “designed to showcase Microsoft’s tablets and touch-sensitive computers,” which sort of explains Microsoft’s presence.

Which brings us to our Spotify rumor du jour, one that this time involves the indies.  You see, it seems that some indies are also interested in windowing release strategies and Spotify withholdings, just like your favorite band, Coldplay.  More as it develops.

Also, congratulations to Justin Timberlake, a 90s-kinda-guy who just scored 90s-kinda-sales.  Timberlake’s just-released The 20/20 Experience racked first-week sales of 968,000 in the US alone, according to early Nielsen Soundscan stats.

And one more thing: Digital Music News is pleased to announced that we’ll be covering Music Matters in Singapore this May, our first trip ever to this important conference.  That follows a recent jaunt to South Korea for MU:CON… see the trend here?

Written while listening to araabMUZIK.  More ahead…

One Response

  1. Visitor

    Timberlake’s just-released The 20/20 Experience was available on Spotify from day one and still managed sales like this.

    Windowing is stupid and doesn’t accomplish anything. It punishes people who are deliberately choosing not to pirate.