Thanks Adele: Digital Album Sales Way Up in 2011
-- Led by Adele's hit "21", this year's best selling new albums are putting up great digital numbers. The top 5 digital albums have sold 1.81 million units through May 15, according to Nielsen SoundScan, up 38% from the same period last year. Its digital sales have been so dominating that in the week ending May 15, only two albums ("Now 38" and Lonely Island's "Turtleneck and Chain") sold more in all formats than "21" sold in just digital albums (60,000).
This year's top 5 digital albums are, in order, Adele's "21" (755,000), Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More" (447,000), "Songs for Japan" (237,000), Lupe Fiasco's "Lasers" (195,000) and Britney Spears' "Femme Fatal" (177,000).
Last year's top 5 were, in order, "Hope for Haiti" (371,000), Ke$ha's "Animal" (283,000), Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" (271,000), Lady Gaga's "Fame" (218,000) and Sade's "Soldier of Love" (169,000).
While digital album sales are up 17% this year, the best sellers are really outperforming. This year's top five titles account for 9.4% of the growth in digital album sales even though it represents just 1.4% of total digital album sales. The biggest factor behind that growth is Adele's "21." Released February 22, "21" has sold 69% more than Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More," which was released in February 2010, and 219% more than the next-best 2011 release, "Songs for Japan."
Further down the chart, digital albums are still selling strong. This year's top 200 titles have sold 26.8% more units than last year's top 200, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Like the top 5, the top 200 is outperforming overall sales: it accounts for 39.5% of this year's growth in digital album sales even though it represents just 27.2% of total sales.
The top 200 current digital albums are up 25.6% compared to 17% for all digital albums.
Sonos Supports Mog
-- Sonos has added support for the MOG subscription service. All Sonos customers in the U.S. can enjoy a free, 14-day trial of MOG. In addition, the two companies are offering a special bundle: a Sonos S5 wireless music system, a Sonos ZoneBridge wireless setup and one-year MOG subscription for $498, which represents a 20% discount.
Sonos previously supported music services such as Rhapsody, Napster and Rdio. It also supports Internet radio (Pandora, iheartradio, Last.fm), download stores (iTunes, eMusic, Amazon MP3) and satellite radio (Sirius XM). In certain markets outside the U.S., Sonos products work with Spotify.
( Press release)
Square Introduces An iPad Credit Card Swiper
-- Square has introduced iPad support for its point-of-sale credit card reader. The San Francisco-based startup previously had support for the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices.
If you're not familiar with Square, here's how it works: Square will send you a free credit card reader that plugs into a mobile device's audio input. The small reader (it really doesn't stick out much) allows you to accept credit card payments using your iPhone, iPod or Android device at places like a merch table at a venue. The mobile apps are free of charge and available at Apple's App Store and Google's Android market. Square makes its money by charging a 2.75% swipe fee per transaction, or a fee of 3.5% plus 15 cents if the credit card number is entered manually.
Square could be onto something big. It's a well-received product with mass market appeal. The company said this week it has given out 500,000 credit card readers and had over one million transactions in May.
Gracenote: New Tools For More Than 10 Million Songs
-- Gracenote announced at the Music Matters conference in Singapore a new version of its Discover music recommendation technology. The new Discover offers the ability to create personalized music channels and deliver music based on attributes such as mood and tempo. It also allows songs to be categorized by era (such as '70s or '80s), origin (the band's city of origin) and genre.
In other words, Gracenote has the tools for music services to deliver products that make a catalog of ten million or 12 million songs more manageable. Having access to millions of songs is great, but it's vital that services help users easily navigate that catalog.
The Echo Nest is another player in this field. And without these companies, music services' features like recommendations and artist radio would not be nearly as compelling. These features make services smarter and easier to use. They're an improvement over the old hunt-and-peck, query-based method of discovery. Even clicking on hyperlinks is a laborious way to discover music compared to having a service automatically serve music and recommendations to its subscribers.
( Press release)
Get in Line: Another Group of Shareholders Suing Warner Music Group
-- Another group of shareholders is suing Warner Music Group to challenge its acquisition by Access Industries. The first lawsuit was filed in a Delaware court, the second in a New York supreme court. Thomson Reuters News & Insight poses the question, "Do we really need two shareholder suits challenging Warner deal?" First of all, as the article notes, "these days there's hardly a major deal that closes without litigation." But in this case, two might not be better than one.
"[The lawsuit is] probably not going to sit very well with the judges of Delaware Chancery Court, who have lately been on the warpath about M&A shareholder suits being litigated in multiple jurisdictions…As (plaintiffs lawyer!) Mark Lebovitch of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann wrote this week in a comprehensive post on multiforum deal litigation at the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance blog, "The current system is prone to manipulation and gamesmanship [and] the judiciary is becoming more sensitive to some of these issues."
( Thomson Reuters)