The past year was a good year for the music industry as sales rose to their best highest point in eight years. According to the IFPI’s annual Recording Industry In Numbers report, revenue from physical media fell by 8.7%, compared with 13.8% in 2010, but were vinyl sales up nearly 29%. Digital revenue continued to grow, increasing 8%, compared to 5.6% in 2010, with digital track sales growing 19% to 3.7 billion songs. Australia leads the way in the digital space with 60% growth, compared with 8% growth in the U.S. and 10% in the U.K. $1.27 billion in digital singles were sold in the U.S., while the U.K. accounted for $176.2 million. Digital sales made up 31% of the total revenue of the music market and reached $5.3 billion in sales. Overall global music revenue fell by just 3% in the last year, however. “2011 marked the least negative result in global recorded music sales since 2004, when revenues were flat,” the report read. The IFPI credits services like Spotify, iTunes, and unlimited-access operators like Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody for bringing new revenue models to customers that have helped the U.S. music market. More →
According to new third quarter figures issued by market research firm NPD Group, Apple’s iTunes music store now accounts for 66.2% of online music purchases, up from 63.2% in the same quarter last year. Apple’s biggest competitor in the space, Amazon, currently holds 13.3% of the market. Executives from major labels suggest the disparity could be even larger, with Amazon owning just 6% to 10% of the market while Apple’s share is nearly 90%. Pricing, often a major factor in retail sales, does not appear to have a major impact on digital music sales. Amazon’s strategy, beyond various distribution deals, is to undercut iTunes. Amazon’s average selling price for popular albums is significantly lower than the $9.99 to $14.99 Apple often charges, and even deeper discounts can be found regularly through promotions like “Daily Deals.” Despite Amazon’s best efforts, however, iTunes’ digital market share continues to grow and Apple’s service remains the global leader in music sales, having surpassed Walmart to take the No. 1 spot in 2008. More →
And it has happened once again. The New York Times published an interesting article this evening which alleges that the U.S. Department of Justice has kicked off another anti-trust investigation that focuses in on Apple. Unlike the other two ongoing investigations which deal with Apple’s lockout of Flash in the iPhone OS and its upcoming iAd service, this time around its Apple’s strangle-hold grip on the digital music marketplace that’s getting all of the attention. Here specifically is what the NYT said triggered the investigation.
In March, Billboard magazine reported that Amazon.com was asking music labels to give it the exclusive right to sell certain soon-to-be-released songs for one day before the songs go on sale more widely. In exchange, Amazon promised to include those songs in a promotion on Amazon’s Web site called “MP3 Daily Deal.”
Representatives from Apple’s music service, iTunes, were asking the labels not to take part in Amazon’s promotion, and Apple punished those that did by later withdrawing marketing support for those songs on iTunes, the magazine reported.
So far the Department of Justice has not proceeded past the inquiry stage, but it doesn’t exactly reflect well upon Apple that this is the third time this month the agency has poked its nose in Apple’s affairs. More →