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New Album Releases Hit Hard By Sales Downturn

A Nielsen study presented last week at NARM (link to full presentation after the jump) contained some particularly bad news for artists and labels releasing new albums. As steep as the overall sales decline has been, the drop for new releases has been been sharper and the chance of breaking through even more difficult.Broken record

  • 105,575 albums released in '08
  • Less than 1% of all releases or just 950 albums sold more than 25,000 copies
  • Those 950 accounted for 82% of all new releases sold
  • New release album sales fell 18% to 149 million
  • That's half the new release sales generated in '01
  • 50,000 digital only albums accounted for 1.8% of all new release album sales
It's possible to be critical of the figures and methodology....

Some question the accuracy of Nielsen's Soundscan data collection knowing that many direct and non-traditional sales go under recorded.  Albums were the focus here and single track and ringtone sales add significantly to the overall picture.

But even if these numbers are off by 20 or even 50%, it is clear that album sales, which was once the foundation of artist and label income can no longer be counted on. Touring, merchandise, vinyl, single track, ringtone, ring back and mobile sales along with income from synch, licensing and streaming are all pieces of the puzzle that any indie music artist or entrepreneur must fit together to find profitability the new music industry.

Crying baby
: Download a pdf of the full Nielsen study presentation at NARM here.