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U.S. Digital Music Sales Go Flat

By: Bruce Houghton

According to a new report from Nielsen Research, 630 million digital music tracks were bought in the US in the first six months of this year.

That number essentially equals sales for the same period a year ago and follows two years of expansion: 13% 2008-2009 and 28% 2007-2008.

Most record labels have projected slow but continued digital growth; though few believed download sales would offset declines in physical revenue.  According to Jean Littolff, managing director of Nielsen Music, flat U.S. sales may have been caused by low consumer confidence, weak release schedules and confusion over the many choices people have to buy music online. "I think this is a plateau, it doesn't mean that this digital consumption is going to drop significantly," he told Reuters. "It's a plateau, but it's not yet saturation."

For a growing number of artists and labels value-added content and non-music revenue like merchandise appear to be the best path to sustainable profits. Others believe that subscription music services - access to music rather than ownership - will eventually be the solution the music industry's revenue dilemma.


About the Author:
Bruce Houghton is a 25 year music industry veteran who owns booking agency Skyline Music and the tour marketing company Skyline Innovations.

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