Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Album Sales Hit A New Low

Michael Jackson: His Life In Photos

As streaming gathers momentum, the U.S. music industry keeps breaking sales milestones -- the wrong kind.

 

This week's 3.97-million album sales tally is the smallest weekly sum for album sales since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. It's also the first time weekly sales have fallen below four million in that time span.

Last week was fairly slow for the top releases. The top album, Wiz Khalifa's Blacc Hollywood, debuted with sales of 90,000 units, a figure below the first-week sales of many other top debuts of 2014. Three other albums debuted inside the top 10 but averaged only 31,000 units apiece. And the Frozen soundtrack is no longer moving in excess of 100,000 units per week.

To compare, a year ago this past week (ending Aug. 25, 2013), 4.88 million albums were sold. But sales have been losing steam all year. The weekly average number of album sales fell from 4.75 million units in the first quarter to 4.55 million units in the second quarter. In the first 8 weeks of the third quarter, the average has fallen further to 4.2 million.

This decline is actually in line with historical trends. In 2013, average weekly album sales experienced a similar fate, falling from 5.7 million units in the first quarter to 5.23 million units in the second quarter and then 4.86 million units in the third quarter. This year, overall U.S. album sales are down 14.6 percent, while digital album sales are down 11.7 percent and track sales are down 12.8 percent.

As more and more consumers transition from purchasing music to streaming tunes, it's natural to see album sales shrink. This year, there have only been five weeks where album sales were above 5 million.

Larger retailers and CDs, vestiges of an older record business, have been hit the hardest. Through August 24th, CD sales are down 19.2 percent year-over-year while sales at mass merchants and chains have fallen 23 percent and 25.6 percent, respectively.

Record label sales executives are not surprised by the latest downturn. "Sales have been going in the wrong direction all year," says one label sales head. "I guess its overdue, when you look at [the growth of streaming]." This year, label executives finally conceded something there were reluctant to acknowledge last year: Streaming is cannibalizing digital sales.

Last year, when Billboard covered the then-historic lows in album sales last August, weekly sales had dipped below 5 million units for five weeks in a row. Weekly sales fared even worse in the following weeks, falling under five million units in 10 of the next 13 weeks. There was even another five-week run of below-five-million weekly sales from early October to early November.


The five-million-unit mark has been almost unreachable in 2014. So far this year, weekly album sales have fallen below that threshold in 29 of 34 weeks and in each of the last 18 weeks. No weekly sales tally has exceeded 4.5 million units since the middle of June.

"What can I say about this week's sales," says yet another distribution sales executive. "I remember when album sales fell under 10 million units and the industry reacted like it was a tragedy."

There is yet more bad news about the sales trend. Since album sales began to slide in 2002, the lowest-placed weekly sales floor by the end of the year tends to become the new ceiling for sales in the following year. Past history teaches us that, if weekly sales continue to fall below the three million mark, next year's norm will be in the three to four million range.

While some major label executives claim that revenue from streaming, which continues to grow, is offsetting declining digital sales revenue, not everyone agrees with that assessment.

"This year the bottom fell out of digital sales to a degree that we never anticipated, which is why many companies are not meeting this year's revenue projections," laments one indie distribution executive.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chief Keef Can't Stay Outta Trouble?

Cops On Prowl For Troubled Teen


Written by Cyrus Langhorne


Chicago rapper Chief Keef is once again the target of police as reports claim he bailed out on a court appearance this week.




According to reports, Keef will have to post thousands in order to make bail when law enforcement gets him.

Chief Keef should call Columbus Short in jail ... so Short can explain to him if you blow off court you get thrown in the pokey. Keef was otherwise occupied and didn't show for his DUI hearing in Highland Park, IL ... it's not much of a case -- he admitted to cops he was smoking before taking the wheel. So now the 19-year-old is a wanted man and when cops catch him he'll have to post $50K bail for the jail bars to open. (TMZ)
While he did not deny publicized home eviction reports, Keef hardly served up an explanation for his situation earlier this summer.


Chief Keef says back rent was not the trigger for his eviction ... he tells us he was booted from his apartment because his neighbors just didn't like him. TMZ previously reported ... Keef was evicted from his unit in Highland Park, Illinois Tuesday. Sheriff's deputies escorted him out, and there were reports he owed $11,300 in back rent. But our photog spotted a self-professed "turnt up" Keef in West Hollywood hours after the eviction ... and he says it's not about money ... it's because, "I'm too bad, I guess I'm a bad little young boy, I gotta go." (TMZ)
Details of Keef's eviction emerged across the Internet in mid-June.

The South Side rapper, whose legal name is Keith Cozart, was evicted Tuesday from his rented mansion in Highland Park, police said. It's the latest in a long list of legal troubles for Cozart -- though a criminal investigation connected to him in another North Shore community has been closed, authorities said Tuesday. Movers carried Cozart's belongings out of the custom two-story brick home to a moving truck as Lake County Sheriff's deputies looked on. The owner of the house, Bal Bansal, said Cozart, 18, had been a good tenant and his departure was voluntary, but police confirmed it was an eviction. (Chicago Tribune)

Reports also claimed the eviction boiled down to him missing monthly payments.

According to court records, Cozart had been about $30,000 behind in rent payments as of March but had reached an agreement to catch up by April 20. But a final eviction order was filed May 7, records show. (Chicago Tribune)

Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" Breaks Vevo Record

Step aside, Miley Cyrus


Nicki Minaj's much-discussed "Anaconda" video smashed Vevo's record for the most views in 24 hours, racking up 19.6 million clicks in the first day of its release.

TUNE IN: Palace Hot 100 Radio

The explicit clip is still going strong, having pulled in more than 37 million views since it was unleashed Tuesday.

"Anaconda" tops previous record-holder Miley Cyrus, whose "Wrecking Ball" clip garnered 19.3 million views over 24 hours, beating previous champs One Direction, whose "Best Song Ever" amassed 12.3 million views over the same period.


Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" video was also a record-breaker, posting 10.7 million views in its first 24 hours.

Google & Apple Show Strong Potential for Digital Music Apps in New comScore Mobile Report

If the future of digital music will be shaped by mobile usage, the U.S. market could have few winners and many losers.


Insights in comScore's new "The U.S. Mobile App Report" show that only a handful of companies offer apps that many Americans use on a regular basis. Time spent on apps is highly concentrated. The average person's most-used app takes up 42 percent of total app time. The top three apps account for 69 percent and the top 10 apps get 88 percent of app time. If an app isn't in a user's top 5, it's going to get 3 percent or less of total app time.


What apps are people using most? Facebook leads in both number of monthly mobile users (115.4 million) and share of total app time (this varies by age group, but Facebook leads in all of them). Pandora is fifth in number of monthly mobile users (69 million) and ranks No. 2 in time share in three of the four age groups (it's #3 in the 55+ age group).

The rest of the list shows how two technology giants, Google and Apple, have a great opportunity to leverage mobile usage into digital music market share. Google has six of the top 25 mobile apps ranked by unique visitors in June: YouTube (2nd), Google Play (3rd), Google Search (4th), Google Maps (6th), Gmail (7th) and Google+ (16th). Google's mobile operating system, Android, also has the most app users, 76.1 million, compared to the iPhone's 62.6 million.

It's clear that Google has ample opportunity to turn Songza and its two subscription services, Google Play All Access and the upcoming YouTube Music Key, into dominant streaming services. It has the most common mobile operating system, the greatest share of top 25 apps and some of the heaviest-used apps.
But the same list shows Google has strong competitors. As already mentioned, Pandora is the 5th most popular app with 69 million unique visitors. Then there's Apple, owner of Beats Music subscription service and iTunes Radio, appears on the list with Apple Maps (9th) and iTunes Radio/Cloud (11th).


Apple is actually stronger than Google in a handful of important metrics. While users of Apple's iOS mobile operating system and Google's Android mobile operating system have the same median age, 40, Apple users have a larger median income ($85,000 to Android's $61,000) and higher average hours per app users (64 hours per month to 55 hours per month).

We already knew that mobile usage is driving digital music gains. Pandora has become more of a mobile company as it has grown in recent years. In the second quarter, Pandora got 83 percent of its listener hours from mobile devices, up from 68 percent three years earlier. Over that same period, Pandora listener hours have risen 186 percent to 5.04 billion per quarter.

We've also seen mobile usage help Spotify, a company nowhere to be seen in comScore's report in spite of having over 3 million U.S. subscribers. In May, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told Billboard the December rollout of a free mobile app helped its recent growth, and over 80 percent of all new subscribers sign up through the mobile app. “We’ve really become a mobile-first company,” Ek said.

Of course, time spent with an app isn't necessarily a barometer of success. Take an app like Lyft, the ride-sharing company that two months ago raised $1.2 billion at a $17 billion valuation. Many Uber users will spend very little time actually using the app -- the value is derived from the transactions, not the time spent using the app.


But streaming music doesn't work like Uber. A successful streaming company will convince a large number of people to regularly spend time using its app. In the attention economy, where access replaces ownership, listening or viewing time is everything. The handful of apps that are best at capturing consumers' attention will stand the best chance of long-term success.  

Iggy Azalea Falls Off Stage During Pre-VMA Show

Security guards quickly pulled the artist back onto the stage, and she barely missed a beat


Iggy Azalea
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Iggy Azalea has tumbled off the stage during an MTV Video Music Awards benefit concert.


There is no immediate word if the Australian rapper was injured.

Azalea fell off the stage Friday night while performing her hit "Fancy" at The Avalon in Los Angeles. Security guards quickly pulled Azalea back onto the stage, and she barely missed a beat as Charli XCX joined her for the chart-topping single.

Afterward Azalea told the crowd she felt "very blessed" that she did not break her legs.

She appeared unharmed and in good spirits, even posting a video of the fall on Instagram. Azalea wrote in the caption: "I know I laughed."

Neither Azalea's representatives nor MTV immediately responded to emails seeking comment.

Tori Kelly and Sam Smith also performed at the event benefiting Lifebeat — Music Fights HIV/AIDS.
Azalea is up for seven awards at the VMAs airing live

M.I.A. Puts Her Finger Away, Touches Down After Messy NFL Drama

 Cyrus Langhorne


Nearly a year after vowing to fight the National Football League (NFL) over her now-infamous middle finger halftime show at Super Bowl XLVI, rapper M.I.A. has reached a settlement.

 


Although details are limited, an M.I.A. lawyer said an agreement was made Friday (August 22).


An attorney for M.I.A. says his client and the NFL have reached a settlement ending their multimillion dollar dispute over the Sri Lankan rapper's flash of the middle finger during her 2012 Super Bowl halftime performance with Madonna. Attorney Howard E. King said in a statement Friday that the two had reached a confidential settlement, but offered no further details. (Fox Sports)
 Beats Music Releases Do Right Thing Documentary

Last September, the international star stood up for herself and questioned the NFL's real issue in a video recording.

The "Born Free" musician argued that if people zoom out from the photo of her and her middle finger, they'll find at least 10 to 15 African-American cheerleaders under the age of 16 that the Material Girl recruited from a local Indianapolis high school who struck very sexually provocative poses. "So now [the NFL is] scapegoating me into figuring out the goal posts on what is offensive in America," said the 38-year-old hitmaker. "Like, is my finger offensive or is an underage black girl with her legs wide open more offensive to the family audience?" (E! Online)

The rapper also pointed out the true intention of the NFL's lawsuit.

M.I.A. (real name Mathangi Arulpragasam) added that the league's legal action is a massive waste of time and money, and her attorney has already solicited fans to send in any examples of bad behavior by NFL personnel not in line with its purportedly family-friendly image. "They want me on my knees and say sorry so they can slap me on my wrists. And basically say it's okay for me to promote being sexually exploited as a female than to display female empowerment through being punk rock," she declared. "That is what it boils down to, and I'm being sued for it." (E! Online)
Buzz behind the NFL's $1.5 million demand bubbled online in mid-September 2013.

M.I.A. Resolves NFL's War Over Super Bowl Middle FingerNews broke last week that the NFL had been quietly waging a serious legal war against MIA, the singer who flipped off the camera during Madonna's Super Bowl performance during the 2012 halftime show. Since then, MIA has asked fans to submit evidence of NFL wrongdoing (including, but not limited to, bounties on hits, athlete injuries and post-career health issues). On Monday, the singer took things a step further by releasing a video of herself comparing what she deems the "sexual exploitation" of Madonna's backup dancers, who she says were young girls under the age of 16 and performed suggestive dances at the same moment she flipped her finger. The league wants $1.5 million from MIA. (Huffington Post)

Friday, August 22, 2014

'Motown The Musical' final performance at Lunt Fontanne Theatre on Jan. 18


By


"Motown the Musical" is taking a break from Broadway.


'Motown The Musical' to Take a Break From BroadwayProducers said Friday the $18 million show will play its final performance at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre on Jan. 18 and intends to reopen in July 2016 at a still-to-be-announced Nederlander-owned theater.
The show, a hit in New York, has spawned a national tour and a production is planned for Britain next summer. Producer Kevin McCollum explained that by closing in January "we have an opportunity to use the production assets from Broadway for the U.K. production next year."

The show about Berry Gordy tells the story of how his Motown Records empire rose and fell and then rose again. It uses dozens of songs, including "War," "What's Going On?" "My Girl" and "Dancing in the Streets.