Manage for Success: Summertime, Newsletter #109, July 2010


"Manage for Success" is a free monthly newsletter for record label executives who want to operate their companies efficiently and successfully. It's published by Keith Holzman of Solutions Unlimited, a management consultant, troubleshooter, and trusted advisor, and is based on his many years as a senior executive in the music industry.


Copyright 2010 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.


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"Summertime, and the livin' is easy.


My apologies to the Gershwin brothers, but the livin's sure not easy these days, especially for those of us in the music business. The stats for the first six months of this year were dismal as reported late last week by Billboard and Digital Music News, but they weren't quite as bad as for the same period in 2009.


Overall U.S. album sales were down 11 percent with 154 million units sold. Included in these numbers: Physical Albums are down almost 18 percent (112 million units sold,) while Digital Albums are up over 13 percent with 42 million units sold. Separately, Digital Tracks sales are essentially flat with 597 million units sold.


One curiosity was noted in the numbers: this year's sales by non-traditional merchants such as Amazon.com, iTunes, and Starbucks (which are now considered to be the largest retail sector) were up more than 10 percent from the first half of last year, while mass-merchants were off 13 percent during the same period. Transworld and Borders had the biggest drops.


As for sales by musical genres -- all were off, except that Christian/gospel and Country were off less percentage-wise than other genres, with Latin being the hardest hit.


My recommended solution is really quite simple -- release only really good music by exceptional artists. It's my opinion, and I know many others who agree with me, that about 95 percent of all the music that's issued by labels and independent artists is pretty poor stuff.


I'm not at all suggesting that there be an industry arbiter as to what should be able to be released -- that way lies totalitarianism. But labels large and small, and especially artists who go it alone without benefit of label, should self-censor what they make available.


Fewer releases -- but those that are truly worthy -- just might attract a public willing to pay for it. And wouldn't that be a plus for all?


Until next month,

Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited

Helping Record Labels Manage for Success.


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Copyright 2010 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.