Music is more than
pieces of plastic
By Ed Shane
CD sales suck.
When the weekly
SoundScan numbers circulate in our office, it
seems the totals each week are more tepid than
the week before. (SoundScan measures CD
purchases at the point of sale).
miserable week back in April, the Top 10 CDs,
taken together, showed only 347,794 units sold.
That means the Top 10 combined wouldn’t qualify
for a Gold record, since 500,000 is the
The Top 10 that
week included the soundtrack from Frozen;
Pharrell Williams’ G I R L, with the once
joyful, now annoying hit, “Happy”; and Luke
Bryan’s Crash My Party. Granted, all
those releases are well into their sales lives
and have each amassed well more than a million
Fewer than 350,000 units in the Top 10 in one
It’s all too
clear that the CD is no longer the center of the
I don’t know how
long I’ve said to my friends in the radio and
records industries that little pieces of
circular plastic are not the business.
Music is the
business; and music lovers want music easily
accessible. iTunes made it easy. Apple’s now
the leading music dealer in the world, and
that’s hardly their core business.
Take an artist
like Granger Smith, wildly popular in Texas, but
hardly a household name on the national scene.
Nonetheless, Granger has more than a million
digital downloads during his career. He was the
number one independent country artist digitally
in 2013 and still number one well into 2014 when
I wrote this on the first of May.
That’s just one
example among the 25 billion downloads Apple
reported at the iTunes store in February.
That’s an average of 15,000 songs downloaded
Vinyl’s making a
Store Day on April 19, lots of vinyl was sold,
most in limited runs to make them special and,
in some cases, rare. The number one seller that
day was Nirvana’s Pennyroyal Tea,
although artists of all genres participated.
Record Store Day showed one day sales of vinyl
were up 91% over the previous week’s sales.
Compare that to 2013’s increase of 57% and
When TJ Broscoff
introduced his latest CD The Break here
at the Texas Music Chart offices, he also
brought copies of the the project pressed in
vinyl. One is displayed in our Cluttered Corner
performance and video space.
TJ sells them at
the merch table at his shows. Very smart.
Physical manifestations of music are now fan
souvenirs. It’s as important for artists to
have physical CDs at the merch table as it is to
offer tee shirts, koozies and other tchotchkes.
Vinyl is an
added attraction and creates a premium sale.
For example, for
the June anniversary of the movie Jurassic
Park, Austin’s Mondo will release a vinyl
version of the original soundtrack. A few of
the packages will have Dilophosaurus-colored
vinyl discs inserted by hand. (The
Dilophosaurus was the venom-spitter in the
movie.) Another 1,000 lps will be pressed on
translucent amber vinyl. None will be available
in record stores, only at the Mondo
While vinyl will
never replace downloads—or CDs for that
matter—it’s fun to watch the resurgence.
Ed Shane is publisher of
Best In Texas Magazine and the Texas Music Chart
15 Truths About the
TOOLBOX — BASICS: TOOLS
11 Secrets to
Social Media Success
Hire Free Lance Musicians
What to Do About
Changes to the Facebook Algorithm
Articles to help you
navigate the music business.
4 Tips for
Getting Fans to Your Shows with Social Media