Record Story Day Has Quite A Day
-- Due to Saturday's Record Store Day, independent stores' album sales were up 39% last week and contributed much of the 8% increase in total album sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Independent stores' 182,000-unit bump accounted for 41% of last week's increase in unit sales, a big influence for a segment of retail that has accounted for 7.9% of total album sales year-to-date. In addition, independent stores saw a 697% increase in single (7" and 12") sales last week.
Last year's Record Store Day, help on April 17, 2010, resulted in an increase in total album sales of just 3% and an increase at the independent sector of 12%.
The impact of Record Store day extended beyond exclusive releases and appeared to help previously released titles. Sales of Adele's "21" rose 23% at independent stores last week and experienced a single-digit increase at chains and a decline at mass merchants, according to Nielsen SoundScan (demand was strong elsewhere as digital sales were up 20%). Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More" rose 33% at independent retail but dropped at chains, mass merchants and digital retail. The Strokes' "Angles" rose 11% at independent retail as it dropped from 19% to 29% at other retail.
Black Keys' "Brothers" shot up 86% at independent retail but rose just 9% at chains and 5% at digital retail. R.E.M.'s "Collapse Into Now" was up 27% at independent retail but was down 5% at chains, 6% at mass merchants and 46% at digital retail. Even a country artist, Jason Aldean, seems to have benefitted. Independent retail sales of "My Kinda Party" were up 86% last week while chain store sales rose just 5% and mass merchant sales were up 8%.
Record Store Day does not appear to have helped the sales of some hip hop albums. Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" dropped 14% at independent, chain and mass merchant retailers. Lil Wayne's "I Am Not a Human Being" dropped 1% at independent retail, 8% at chains and 12% at mass merchants. In its third week of release, Wiz Khalifa's "Rolling Papers" dropped a bit less at independent retail (-26%) than it did at chains (-36%), digital retail (-37%) and mass merchants (-42%). Those numbers may appear to show a Record Store Day bump, but "Rolling Papers" also had a relatively light second-week fade at independent retail.
Believe the Hype: Public Enemy's Chuck D on Community and the Arts
-- Here's a partial transcription of Public Enemy frontman Chuck D's introduction of the band The Great Book of John at Grimey's in Nashville at Record Store Day. Chuck talked about the importance of community to the arts:
"If the community cannot supports the arts, then the arts cannot support the community. When it comes down to radio stations and stores like what Grimey's has done, it's all about community. Forget about all this nationalism as far as music and corporations and conglomerates are concerned because it's got to start from home. We want an artist to be able to make a living in their own state area."
exfm Raises Seed Funding For Music Discovery
-- exfm http://ex.fm/, formerly ExtensionFM, has raised $750,000 in seed funding in a round led by Spark Capital, Betaworks, Founder Collective, and Dave Morgan. exfm offers an extension for the Google Chrome web browser that allows the user to discover music while browsing the Web.
X5 Music Group "Winning" With Low Pricing
-- A large quantity of digital music at a low price seems to be a winning combination for X5 Music Group. On Tuesday morning, X5 had five of the top ten MP3 albums at Amazon and another title at #19. Two of the six cost $1.99 and the other four were priced at just $0.99. In addition, an X5 classical music sampler was #3 on the free MP3 album list. The titles, with 50 or 99 tracks, usually cost a bit more but were on sale at the time.
Many of the titles have been in Amazon's top 100 for months. "The 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music," then at #3 with a $0.99 price, has been in the top 100 for 162 days. (Its price was $2.49 on Wednesday.) It has sold 54,000 units since its release in October 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "The 99 Most Essential Relaxing Classics," at #1 and also with a $0.99 price, has been in the top 100 for 117 days. (The price was up to $7.99 on Wednesday.) This title has sold 31,000 units since its release in June 2010.
The label's titles also sell well at iTunes. "The 99 Darkest" was iTunes #3 classical album on Wednesday with a price of $9.99. "The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music" was #5 and priced at $5.99. "The 50 Darkest" was also priced at $5.99 and ranked at #11 on Wednesday.
The high quantity-low price strategy can be seen in other releases. This week, EMI rolled out "50 Classics for Beginners," a collection of 50 classical tracks priced at $3.99 at iTunes. Point Classics' 50-track "Royal Wedding Music - 50 Fanfares, Marches & Classical Favorites," priced at $7.99, was Amazon's #15 classical MP3 album on Wednesday. Naxos sells "24 Hours of Classical Music" (316 songs) for $9.99 at iTunes.
In an email to Billboard, X5 CEO Johan Lagerlöf told me the label has around a 20% share of the U.S. classical market through only digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon. Last year, Northzone Ventures invested $10 million to help fuel X5's expansion. According to Lagerlöf, X5 is expanding into jazz, 50s-70s soul, pop, rock and country. And, as has been previously announced, Scott Ambrose Reilly and Joy O'Shell left Amazon to start up X5's U.S. office.