The Adele Effect, and Other First-Quarter Observations
-- The first quarter of 2012 has come to a close and the "Adele Effect" is everywhere. Not only did the singer's breakthrough album 21 provide the highlights of the Grammy Awards, it helped prop up U.S. recorded music sales, prevented a decline in album sales and kept the first quarter - historically a slow period for new releases - from looking like the graveyard of years past. 21 sold an astounding 2.67 million units in the first quarter (nearly 2 million more than the second-best selling album, Whitney Houston's Greatest Hits) in addition to 4.96 million tracks.
Here are five observations on the first quarter's recorded music sales as measured by Nielsen SoundScan. Note: First-quarter sales figures represent sales through April 3 and are compared to sales in the same period last year unless otherwise indictated.
1. Adele's 21 was the difference between a good and mixed quarter. Take out sales of 21 and album sales go from flat to down 3.4%. Take out track sales from 21 and the first quarter's 6.5% gain in track sales drops to 5.1%. Other titles would have certainly made up for some of the difference had 21 never been released, but Adele's mainstream success seems to have generated a lot of revenue that otherwise would not have existed.
2. The no. 1 album averaged 229,000 units per week in the first quarter of 2012, up 52% from 151,000 in the same period last year. The reason for the gain was 21, which exceeded 100,000 each week except one (the week ended January 22) and topped the album chart for the first nine weeks of the year. The top-selling album failed to reach 100,000 units six times in the first quarter of 2011.
3. If not for Adele, Lana Del Rey's Born to Die, Tim McGraw's Emotional Traffic, Kidz Bop 21 and the David Crowder Band's Give Us Rest Or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) all would have reached #1 with first-week sales under 100,000 units. In the first quarter of last year, Cake, the Decemberists and Amos Lee all reached #1 without topping 100,000 units.
4. Slight shifts in popularity of genres can be seen in first-quarter track sales. Pop songs often have the highest share of track sales, but pop's share of track sales in the first quarter of 2012 dropped to 24.5% from 27% in the first quarter of 2011. R&B dropped to 21.6% from 23.3%. The biggest gainers were dance/electronic (3.6% to 6.4%), alternative rock (11.8% to 13.4%) and country (10% to 11.4%). Rock had the highest share with 26.3%.
5. Hit songs are still hot songs. The top digital track averaged 303,000 units in the first quarter of 2012, up about 8% from the 281,000 units the #1 track averaged in the same period last year. Overall, digital track sales were up 7% in the first quarter. This year's highest weekly tally narrowly beat out the best of the first quarter of 2011. Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" sold 521,000 while Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" moved 509,000 units in its second week (on top of 448,000 in its first week).
Universal Music Thailand's True Ties
Universal Music Thailand has partnered with Thai telecom True for a music service for subscribers of True's 1 million high-speed mobile service. The cloud-based service will offer 50,000 Universal Music tracks and videos without costing subscribers anything extra on top of their existing charges. True is one of the country's biggest mobile carriers. The company is also a leader in cable television and is one of the country's largest Internet service providers. ( McClureMusic)
Pinterest Is the Third Most Popular Social Network in the U.S. - But Music Still Hasn't Cracked It
-- Believe it or not, Pinterest is now the third-most popular social network in the U.S. behind Facebook and Twitter, according to a new report by Experian. "The 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report" http://digital.turn-page.com/i/60651 says traffic to the site rose nearly 50% from January to February. Pinterest is "the one to watch for retailers in particular," says Experian.
How music and entertainment companies can best work with Pinterest is still up in the air. The site lacks the demographic make-up of the typical social network - 60% of users are female and 55% are between the ages of 25 and 44. As a result, Pinterest has been excellent for driving traffic to sites like clothing retailers but has not yet emerged as a valuable channel for recorded music or concert tickets. Companies have built incredible tools for music marketing and ecommerce on Facebook and Twitter but not Pinterest (although that could change once developers set their sights on the platform).
Experian's numbers for Pinterest are in line with comScore's figures http://venturebeat.com/2012/03/21/pinterest-uniques/ for the same period: February traffic increased to 52% to 17.8 million unique visitors. ( Experian.com)