Nielsen has just released its statistics on the music industry in 2006 and there's lots to chew on, despite the fact that the data is all in units, not dollars, and there's some unfortunate apples-and-oranges mixing between albums and individual tracks. Nevertheless, some highlights:
- Digital track sales: up 65%
- Album sales: down 5%
- The fastest growing music category was Classical, up 23% (this is mostly because Classical is so badly served in traditional bricks-and-mortar music stores. The fact that it's one of the largest categories on iTunes, despite the demographic mismatch with the typical iTunes customer, is evidence that consumers are flocking online for choice)
- The second fastest growing category was soundtracks, but that can be mostly explained by High School Musical.
Of particular Long Tail interest is this analysis of catalog and deep catalog sales (that's "old" and "older", but I've got a query in to Nielsen as to the exact definitions.
I'll update this when they get back to me. UPDATE: the answer is that Catalog is 12-36 months old for Classical and Jazz; 18-36 months for everything else. Deep Catalog is more than 36 months old). Note that both such Long Tail categories are doing better than sales of current albums.
Here's the official album top ten list for 2006:
Rank Title/Artist Units Sold
10 Soundtrack / High School Musical 3,719,071
2 Me and My Gang / Rascal Flatts 3,479,994
3 Some Hearts / Carrie Underwood 3,015,950
4 All the Right Reasons/ Nickelback 2,688,166
5 Futuresex/Love … / Justin Timberlake 2,377,127
6 Back to Bedlam / James Blunt 2,137,142
7 B’day / Beyonce 2,010,311
8 Soundtrack/ Hannah Montana 1,987,681
9 Taking the Long Way/ Dixie Chicks 1,856,284
10. Extreme Behavior/ Hinder 1,817,350