Record industry gets some upbeat news
Among musicians, flat is a word you dont want to hear. But to the industry, flat is truly music to everyones ears.
Soundscans sales year doesnt end until Jan. 1, but current year-to-year comparisons have album sales for 2011 ahead of comparable 2010 business.
Okay, its only by a whisker of one per cent. But it is welcome news in an industry where album sales for 2010 were down 13 per cent from 2009. And before that theyd been down an average of 8 per cent every year through the 2000s, suggesting an incredible shrinking music business.
This year reversed the trend, but there is a cloud buried in the silver lining: the success stories of 2011 will not be easy to replicate.
The years two biggest albums were Adeles 21 and Michael BublÃs Christmas, and even the most copycat-prone execs arent foolish enough to start looking for pleasingly plump Englishwomen or Sinatra-bred carollers to sign.
Regardless of how applicable the lessons might be, heres our look back at what worked and what didnt in 2011:
RETRO ROCKS, IF YOU DONT CALL IT RETRO
Artists from Adele to the Black Keys thrived by recalling good old days for oldsters while seeming utterly contemporary to kids whod rebel at the word throwback.
At last tally, Adeles 21 had sold 5.28 million; with two sales weeks yet to be reported, the blockbuster should finish out the year a little shy of six million. (The only release in the past few years to cross the six million mark was Taylor Swifts Fearless.) Moreover, she sold an additional 750,000 copies this year of her previous album, 19.
Adele is a singles artist, too. Rolling in the Deep has sold 5.66 million downloads, followed by Someone Like You with 3.35 million, Set Fire to the Rain with 963,000, and Rumour Has It with 551,000.
On a smaller but louder end of the spectrum, the Black Keys put the lie to rock is dead theories – again – by moving 426,000 copies this year of their two-year-old Brothers.
BET ON THE RIGHT CAROLLER
Everyone guessed thered be a big Christmas album this year. Almost everyone guessed itd be Justin Biebers. But BublÃs sold 1.96 million of his holiday CD, versus Biebers 1 million. We should have seen it coming, since BublÃs previous album quietly sold two million-plus. Despite his crooner image, BublÃs holiday set wisely had something for everyone, whereas Biebers had some-thing to annoy just about every-one outside his core.
Christmas stands at No. 3 on the list of 2011s bestsellers, and will surpass Lady Gaga to land at No. 2 by Jan. 1.
FORGET ABOUT ROCK NOT BEING DEAD
The news wasnt so great if you werent the Black Keys. One of the biggest bands of the 2000s, Evanescence, belly flopped with their self-titled third album, which has sold an anemic 284,000 units in 10 weeks and currently sits at No. 101.
Some other big rock names did just okay. Coldplay sold 877,000 copies of Mylo Xyloto in eight weeks – impressive, until you remember their last album sold 721,000 in one week.
Dont call Blink-182s Neighborhoods a comeback. The dormant superstars return moved 259,000 units in 10 weeks.