The year-end U.S. music sales figures are out. There is a slew of negative data in this report.
But, as any reader of this blog knows, I have long been an advocate of "non-traditional sales," both for physical goods and digital music products. So, after reading through the negative news here comes this "factoid:"
Album sales at Non-Traditional music outlets (digital, internet, mail order, venue, non-traditional retailers) hit an all-time high in 2008 with sales breaking the 100 million mark for the first time. Non-Traditional is the only strata that experienced album growth over the previous year; with an increase of 15% over 2007. Non-traditional outlets account for nearly 25% of all album sales, compared to 18% in 2007, 12% in 2006, 9% in 2005 and 5% in 2004 (4% in 2003). Digital services account for 65% of the Non-Traditional album sales.
That's not a silver lining so much as proof that non-trad. could have been a much more powerful force in the market before it was economically necessary to seek out those accounts. Now it just looks like opportunity lost. The labels made their bed with the mass merchants, and now they have to lie in it.