Thursday, March 31, 2016

Vinyl sales in 2015 at their highest since 1988 - so what?

RIAA released some data around sales income for 2015 recently, with a lot of folk picking up on this exciting wee statement: "Vinyl even beat out the revenue generated by ad-supported streaming services which brought in $385 million." The vinyl revival continues (while still only being 0.9% of total sales) .

However, RIAA aren't exactly comparing apples with apples. From Hypebot:

" ... The RIAA's vinyl revenue number is based on gross retail sales. On the other hand, the ad supported revenue number is the net amount paid to labels, an RIAA spokesperson confirmed.

Vinyl $416M vs. Ad-Support Streams $385M

$416 million in 2015 vinyl sales effectively netted creators and rightsholders less than half that after manufacturing, distribution and retail markup. $385 million in streaming income, on the other hand, was not diminished by any of those expenses. The cost of digital delivery to a streaming service is minimal and requires no manufacturing or shipping and far fewer middlemen.

Vinyl $200M vs. Ad-Supported Stream $350M

My conclusions are, of course, just educated guesses. But if we hope to fix the very real revenue problem for artists and the industry, all sides need to begin a dialogue guided by real numbers rather than rhetoric."

And what percentage was vinyl of sales in 1988? Just 11% of total sales. Cassettes were the big seller.


So, while vinyl is doing well, we're heading into April, with Record Store Day coming up on April 16. Not every record store is looking forward to it. As the day increasingly gets taken over by major labels hogging pressing plants to issue vinyl of the likes of Justin Beiber, Status Quo or Mungo Jerry, some stores are not really feeling it any more...

A Record Shopkeeper Writes: Why Record Store Day Must End.

" ... The whole event has become a record label promotion opportunity and nothing else. Record shops are merely the vehicle for a quiet time of the year marketing binge. From my point of view, as a record shop owner, RSD is damaging to us in the following ways:

... The lead up to the day sees a dramatic fall in sales, and the post event effect is similar. Ask around. Do shops' quarterly figures look any better whenever they take part in RSD? All the ones I know say no. New releases all but come to an end weeks before, and all promotional activities swing behind RSD....

.... All this stuff comes out on one day, so in the six month lead up to RSD, the pressing plants are choked full of RSD releases (as investigated by The Quietus here), and as a result the indie labels can't get anything out in the interim. They're forcing me to say it... CD is the new vinyl....." 

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