Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.


A Second Look At Reuters' Sales Report
-- If you read a Reuters article on Monday about flat U.S. digital sales, keep reading to get the full picture. The article had a number of problems that merit clarification.

The least of the problems is the fact that Reuters was using Nielsen sales data from the first half of 2010. We're almost to the end of the third quarter, so sales data from January to June is well outdated. Reuters lucked out here. Track sales are down 1% compared to being flat at the end of June. So not a lot of change in the last three months.
In seeking an explanation for flat track sales, a Nielsen executive explained the trend could be explained by weak consumer confidence, low appeal of new music and confusion over a multitude of sources for legal downloads. But left out was this: Variable pricing was introduced at iTunes in early April of 2009. Thus, the door was opened for labels to raise track prices to $1.29 from $0.99 as they saw fit. That one factor is definitely responsible for lower track sales and cannot be overlooked.

Reuters' biggest error was completely forgetting about digital album sales. As noted in Billboard's July 7 post on mid-year SoundScan figures, digital albums were up 12.7%. As of September 19, digital album sales were up about 13%.

So if track sales are flat - or down a percent - and digital albums are up 13%, what's the net impact? What happens when you add a la carte downloads and tracks acquired in album purchases? Using the sales data in Billboard's July 7 post, and assuming 11 tracks per album, total tracks sold increased 5.4% in the first half of 2010.

After the original story ran, Reuters fixed the story by adding a sentence about digital albums: "When combined with the growth in digital album sales, overall digital music sales were up over 5 percent in the U.S." It also changed the headline. But from TechWeek to Portfolio, websites that picked up the original Reuters story failed to catch its update. Their readers have been left with an inaccurate view of digital sales in the U.S. (Reuters, Billboard.biz)


Report: Radio Still Tops For In-car Play
-- A survey by Vision Critical says radio is still by far the most popular form of listening in the car. Eighty five percent of U.S. respondents listen to broadcast radio while driving while 49% listen to CDs and cassettes, 23% listen to music through a portable device such as an iPod and 16% listen to satellite radio.

A company like Pandora thinks Internet radio has a lot of potential in the car. So it may feel emboldened that the survey found that 9% of respondents are already streaming audio on a smartphone in the car. In addition, over half of the respondents are interested in new technologies that would allow them to listen to Internet radio or on-demand music and talk shows. (Radio Ink)


Animal Collective Charitable Shoe Line
-- Indie rock band Animal Collective has an interesting charitable project that allows them to venture outside of music. The band will create a line of shoes for Keep, a Los Angeles-based shoe and clothing company. All proceeds from the shoe will go to the Socorro Island Conservation Fund. According to the product page for the Tobin, designed by Avey Tare, advance sales come with an audio cassette of previously unreleased music. (Pitchfork)


Interscope Taps Club Droid App
UrbanWorld Wireless has created a free Android app called Club Droid that offers hip-hop news and geo-specific alerts of parties and events in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Interscope Records will promote parties, music showcases and artist meet-and-greets through Club Droid. Teteo Tequila is also a partner in the app. (Mobile Marketer)


Target To Open Mini Stores
-- Finally, a retailer that's actually opening stores - albeit small ones. Target will open mini stores in urban areas. The retailer is aiming for ten cities including Seattle, San Francisco and Baltimore. The stores will have 60,000 to 100,000 square feet area. No word yet on if the stores will stock music. (AP)


Assorted Links
-- Last.fm listening preferences, displayed visually by age and gender.
(Last.fm blog)

-- Bravado, Universal Music Group's merchandise division, has named
Deane Marcus to general manager. (Press release)

-- Black River Entertainment has purchased Sound Stage studios in
Nashville. (MusicRow)