Pere: Executive Director
TO JOIN CSA
Online secure via PayPal
(fast and secure)
print out the
application form online
and mail it back to us
application package by mail
Check out our
Each time you Search
the Web using Good Search, you help us raise money for our community
outreach through LUNCH
Don't Google when you can GoodSearch
of CSA: The First Decade (1979-1989)
is Song Craft ?
Join CSA ?
Members featured in Making Music Magazine
American Idol Articles
on songwriting techniques
Want to Sign a Record Contract ?
Songcrafters' Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to
Effective and Successful Songwriting
Interested in a weekend Songwriting Retreat?
Members have the
opportunity to get their songs released on our
Great performance opportunities at our Showcases and Concert Series. For performance opportunities
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET CSA's FAMOUS SONG
CRITIQUES BY e-MAIL?
Would you be interested in attending a weekend
Sales of Music, Long in Decline, Plunge
A Retailing Shakeout -- By
ETHAN SMITH ,
The Wall Street Journal March 21 2007 Page
(Note from CSA -- The article below, from the Wall Street
Journal, is very important to all musicians. While it is very bad
news for major record companies and "mainstream" music, it is good news
for Indie artists if you know how to navigate these trends. But most
importantly, it highlights the fact that more than ever, the
fundamental ingredient for music success is not the artist, nor the production, nor
the marketing -- it is a well-written, timeless, universal song which can
transcend the market trends)
In a dramatic acceleration of the seven-year sales
decline that has battered the music industry, compact-disc sales for the
first three months of this year plunged 20% from a year earlier, the
latest sign of the seismic shift in the way consumers acquire music.
The sharp slide in sales of CDs, which still account
for more than 85% of music sold, has far eclipsed the growth in sales of
digital downloads, which were supposed to have been the industry's
salvation. The slide stems from the confluence of long-simmering factors
that are now
feeding off each other, including the demise of specialty music retailers like
longtime music mecca Tower Records. About 800 music stores, including
Tower's 89 locations, closed in 2006 alone. Apple_ Inc.'s sale of around
100 million iPods shows that music remains a powerful force
in the lives of consumers. But because of the Internet, those consumers have
more ways to obtain music now than they did a decade ago, when walking into a
store and buying it was the only option.
Today, popular songs and albums -- and countless lesser-known works
-- can be easily found online, in either legal or pirated forms. While the
music industry hopes that those songs will be purchased through legal
services like Apple's iTunes Store, consumers can often listen to them on
MySpace pages or download them free from other sources, such as so-called
Jeff Rabhan, who manages artists and music producers including Jermaine
Dupri, Kelis and Elliott Yamin, says CDs have become little more than
advertisements for more-lucrative goods like concert tickets and T-shirts.
"Sales are so down and so off that, as a manager, I look at a CD as part
of the marketing of an artist, more than as an income stream," says Mr.
Rabhan. "It's the vehicle that drives the tour, the merchandise, building
the brand, and that's it. There's no money."
The music industry has found itself almost powerless in
the face of this shift. Its struggles are hardly unique in the media
world. The film, TV and publishing industries are also finding it hard to
adapt to the digital age. Though consumers are exposed to more media in
more ways than ever before, the challenge for media companies is finding a
way to make money from all that
exposure. Newspaper publishers, for example, are finding that their Internet
advertising isn't growing fast enough to replace the loss of traditional print
In recent weeks, the music industry has posted some of
the weakest sales it has ever recorded. This year has already seen the two
lowest-selling No. 1 albums since Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music
sales, was launched in 1991. One week, "American Idol" runner-up Chris
Daughtry's rock band sold just 65,000 copies of its chart-topping album;
another week, the "Dreamgirls" movie soundtrack sold a mere 60,000. As
recently as 2005, there were many weeks when such tallies wouldn't have
been enough to crack the top 30 sellers. In prior copies a week. In
general, even today's big titles are stalling out far earlier than they did a
few years ago.
The music industry has been banking on the rise of
digital music to compensate for inevitable drops in sales of CDs. Apple's
2003 launch of its iTunes Store was greeted as a new day in music
retailing, one that would allow fans to conveniently and quickly snap up
large amounts of music from limitless virtual shelves. It hasn't
worked out that way -- at least so far. Digital sales of individual songs
this year have risen 54% from a year earlier to 173.4 million, according
to Nielsen SoundScan. But that's nowhere near enough to offset the 20%
decline from a year ago in CD sales to 81.5 million units. Overall, sales of
all music -- digital and physical -- are down 10% this year. And even including
sales of ringtones, subscription services and other "ancillary" goods, sales
are still down 9%, according to one estimate; some recording executives have
privately questioned that figure, which was included in a recent report by
Pali Research. Meanwhile, one billion songs a month are traded on illegal
file-sharing networks, according to BigChampagne LLC. Adding to the
music industry's misery, CD prices have fallen amid pressure for cheaper
prices from big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and others. That pressure is
feeding through to record labels' bottom lines. As the market has
deteriorated, Warner Music Group Corp., which reported a 74% drop in profits for
the fourth quarter of 2006, is expected to report little relief in the first
quarter of this year. Looking at unit sales alone "flatters the
situation," says Simon Wright, chief executive of Virgin Entertainment
Group International, which runs 14 Virgin Megastores locations in North
America and 250 world-wide. "In value terms,
the market's down 25%, probably." Virgin's music sales have increased
slightly this year, he says, thanks to the demise of chief competitor Tower, and
to a mix of fashion and "lifestyle" products designed to attract
customers. Perhaps the biggest factor in the latest chapter of the music
industry's struggle is the shakeout among music retailers. As recently as
a decade ago,
specialty stores like Tower Records were must-shop destinations for fans looking
for both big hits and older catalog titles. But retailers like _Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. took away the hits business
by undercutting the chains on price. Today such megaretailers represent
about 65% of the retail market, up from 20% a decade ago,
music-distribution executives estimate. And digital-music piracy, which has
been rife since the rise of the original Napster file-sharing service, has
allowed many would-be music buyers to fill their CD racks or digital-music
players without ever venturing into a store. Late last year, Tower Records
closed its doors, after filing for bankruptcy-court protection in August.
Earlier in 2006, following a bankruptcy filing, Musicland Holding Corp.,
which owned the Sam Goody chain, closed 500 of its 900 locations. And
recently, Trans World Entertainment Corp., which operates the FYE and
Coconuts chains, among others, began closing 134 of its 1,087 locations.
But even at the outlets that are still open, business has suffered.
Executives at Trans World, based in Albany, N.Y., told analysts earlier this
month that sales of music at its stores declined 14% in the last quarter
of 2006. For the year, music represented just 44% of the company's sales,
down from 54% in 2005. For the final quarter of the year, music
represented just 38% of its sales.
Joe Nardone Jr., who owns the independent 10-store
Gallery of Sound chain in Pennsylvania, says he is trying to make up for
declining sales of new music by emphasizing used CDs, which he calls "a
more consistent business." For now, though, he says used discs represent
less than 10% of his business -- not nearly enough to offset the declines.
Retailers and others say record labels have failed to deliver big sellers.
And even the hits aren't what they used to be. Norah Jones's "Not Too Late"
has sold just shy of 1.1 million copies since it was released six weeks ago.
Her previous album, "Feels Like Home," sold more than 2.2. million copies in
the same period after its 2004 release. "Even when you have a good release
like Norah Jones, maybe the environment is so bad you can't turn it
around," says Richard Greenfield, an analyst at
Meanwhile, with music sales sliding for the first time even at some
big-box chains, Best Buy has been quietly reducing the floor space it
dedicates to music, according to music-distribution executives.
Whether Wal-Mart and others will follow suit isn't clear, but if they do it
could spell more trouble for the record companies. The big-box chains already
stocked far fewer titles than did the fading specialty retailers. As a
result, it is harder for consumers to find and purchase older titles in stores.
Ethan Smith writes for the Wall Street Journal at
PO Box 511 Mystic CT 06355 -- info @ ctsongs.com