Monday, December 11, 2006

Squeezing Money From the Music

With some holiday sales still to be made and tabulated, album sales are down almost 5 percent this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. Sales at digital music services like iTunes continue to rise, but the pace of the increase has slowed compared with last year.

Still, if every 10 individual tracks sold online are counted as albums, overall recorded music sales are off only about 0.7 percent this year. While that is far from last year’s 4 percent drop, it represents a decline from early summer, when overall sales were running ahead of last year.

All that indicates how sales of downloaded individual songs are eroding the underpinnings of the CD and remixing the industry’s economics. More and more, music companies are looking toward sales of bite-size units — individual songs typically sell for 99 cents — instead of full albums that may cost $15 at record shops. Barring a late surge in CD sales, more digital tracks than CD’s will be sold in the United States for the first time this year. MORE

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