Music sales up in 2012 but it’s not all good news
DO YOU want the good news or the bad? It’s better to start the New Year on a positive note, so here’s the good: music sales were up in 2012 In the US, the world’s biggest market, sales of music across all platforms rose by 3.1%. In the UK, overall digital sales of TV shows, films, music and video games broke the £1bn mark for the first time, with music downloading up 15%.
All good, you wil agree, but scratch below the surface and there are worrying trends for some sectors of the market.
Physical CD sales fell significantly in 2012, mirroring a pattern of recent years. CD sales fell by 14.9% in the UK and by 13.5% in the US last year, putting bricks and mortar stores under further pressure. And with Amazon and other online retailers taking bigger and bigger slices of this market, the future existence of remaining record shops must be in serious jeopardy.
Singles are now the biggest driver of sales increases, with a 5.1% rise in America and a 6% increase in the UK. But album sales in 2012 continued to fall, mainly because of that decline in the purchase of CDs.
What this means for recording artists does depend on where they are on the ladder of commercial success. The Adeles, Emili Sandes, Rihannas and Ed Sheerans of this world will look back on 2012 with delight and substantially bigger bank balances. But lesser mortals who rely on album sales and have neither the funds nor the promo singles to gain a strong online identity could be struggling to survive.
Americans bought 316m albums in 2012 and 4.4m of these were accounted for by a 2011 album, Adele’s ‘21’, making it the biggest seller, with Taylor Swift’s ‘ Red’ in second place. Emili Sande’s debut ‘ Our Version of Events’ was the biggest seller in the UK, with 1.4 m copies purchased, ahead of Adele’s ‘21’ and Ed Sheeran’s ‘+’.
2012 was the year of the big-selling single. Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was the top selling song of 2012. It shifted 6.8m units in the US alone, making it the fourth best selling digital song of all time in that market, ahead of Black Eyed Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling’, Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’, and LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’. Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ also made the alltime digital sales list in the US, with almost 6.5m sales in 2012.
In the UK nine singles broke the million sales barrier in 2012. Gotye and Jepsen lead the way, followed by Fun’s ‘We Are Young’, David Guetta’e ‘Titanium’ and X Factor winner James Arthur’s ‘Impossible’.
The only Irish interest in the UK’s 2012 Top 40 is at number 21 where The Script and Will.i.am’s ‘Hall of Fame’ pops up due to healthy sales of 529,000.
Thanks to the redemption of Christmas vouchers, the week beginning December 22 was the biggest week of the year for digital sales and that enabled one Christmas song to make a little bit of chart history.
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s ‘Fairytale of New York’, which has made the UK charts at Christmas time for each of the last eight years, finally passed the magic one million sales mark to become the 126th million-seller in the UK.
This is all very well but in the not-too-distant future we may not be referring to ‘sales’ at all, but to streaming. Data from the likes of Spotify and Deezer suggests that the streaming of music grew by around a third in 2012, and if that trend continues, those who pay to download may become the minority.
Gotye and Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was the biggest selling song of 2012.