Atlantic Records’ digital sales beat physical sales, so says The New York Times and lots of research-y people. HOWEVER:
This performance is sharply at odds with the trends in the music
industry over all, where data show that sales of compact discs still
account for more than two-thirds of music sales. Forrester Research
does not expect digital music to reach 50 percent of the overall pie
Fear not, gentle readers, Atlanta Records President Julie Greenwald has “figured it out”, “it” being, presumably, how to sell records in 2008?
“I think we’ve figured it out,” said Julie Greenwald, president of
Atlantic Records. “It used to be that you could connect five dots and
sell a million records. Now there are 20 dots you can connect to sell a
It seems the 15 additional dots include extras (or, apparently, essentials) like ring tones, ringbacks, satellite radio and subscription
services. I didn’t know what a “ringback” was, so I looked it up. Ah yes, that explains the awful remix of “Take on Me” I have to listen to every time I call my cousin. I’ve never heard classical music while calling someone, though. Perhaps none of my friends select it (possible), or perhaps classical labels haven’t tapped into it? I would make my ringback “Clapping Music“, should it become available. “Please enjoy the clapping while your party is reached.”
The Times article also explains that, record labels not being as “flush” (seriously, that’s the word used) as they once were, spending on album marketing, tour publicity and music videos has been cut. Music videos, and my childhood, are dead anyway, or didn’t you hear?
Atlantic chairman and CEO, Craig Kallman, clarifies what record labels have to do, by way of…Leonard Bernstein?
“Today you have to be like Leonard Bernstein,”
said Mr. Kallman, “making sure everyone is hitting the right notes at
just the right millisecond. The tipping point, if you will, is when
everything converges and your timing with everything is impeccable.”
Mr. Kallman is perhaps more right than he knows: record labels do need to be like Leonard Bernstein, but not simply like Bernstein-as-name-dropped-stand-in-for-orchestral-conductors-everywhere. Like Leonard Bernstein insofar as connecting with communities, educating listeners in a non-patronizing way, creating original content, being a force of personality and brand identity, and shattering preconceived notions of what their role in the music industry is and can be.