Audio News for July 21, 2010

by | Jul 21, 2010 | Audio News | 0 comments

Blu-ray and Digital Distribution Sales Up – The mid-year sales figures from The Digital Entertainment Group covers DVD, Blu-ray and digital distribution of video. For the first half of 2010 it reached $8.8 billion, off 3.3% compared to the same period last year, but showing Blu-ray software sales up 84%, Blu-ray equipment sales up 103% and digital distribution up 23%. Blu-ray disc sales, including both sell-thru and rental, was $982 million for the first half of the year. Digital distribution, which has maintained a steady rise, surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time. Video-on-Demand was also up 19% for the first half. Rental spending was down about 5% in general but income from the DVD rental kiosks was up 55%. The installed base of Blu-ray playback devices in the U.S. is now 19.4 million units.

Naxos Now Leading Classical Record Label and Distributor – Klaus Heymann, founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Naxos Records, was in the U.S. for marketing meetings and was interviewed by The Classical Beat blog. He reported that their business was up 25% from last year – certainly not what the major record labels can claim. Naxos also now has a 400-program video library, a streaming music service, and has become the major distributor for small classical labels. He said audio downloads are stagnating but physical disc sales are still strong in classical music, unlike pop and rock – and were 6% over last year. Heymann said the recession hasn’t affected Naxos much, but decried the disappearance of so many record shops. Amazon has now become their biggest customer. He described SACD as “almost dead” [Not true!] and feels that audio-only Blu-ray is going to be “the high-end medium of the future.”  Naxos has already released their first audio Blu-ray, and plans to release ten new titles in October, with four or five a month after that. He also discussed experimenting with recordings on a USB stick and on selling iPods pre-loaded with music. He said that most of their releases just break even and are lucky to sell around 4000 copies; it’s only a few titles such as The Best of Chopin that sell as much as 400,000. Often they only sell enough to pay the musician and copyright fees. Heymann said Naxos’ strategy is that they hope to be the last man standing in terms of distributing classical music as a physical object.

The Great Hobbyist Debate – is what some have dubbed a growing discussion about pure hobbyists and aspiring artists in music.  Some hobbyists can get quite serious, and some aspiring artists can struggle thru in spite of being short of time, talent, resources or originality and still attract quite a fan base. Look at musical genres such as blues, punk and rap – let alone much pop music in general. Some observers feel that both groups are critical for the future of the music industry, and they cite a part of the business that is often ignored – musical instruments.

CD sales may have dropped over 50% in the last decade, but more and more people are picking up musical instruments and playing for the fun of it.  Sales topped $14.8 billion last year, and this was more than double the 2003 figure!  Musical appetites have become incredibly strong – thanks to the unlimited Net access nearly everyone now has to music, lyrics, videos and everything else. For most new bands, iTunes is just the first step; there are email lists, the many social network web sites, trying to get blogger mentions, and the whole crowded communications environment of today. More consumers are picking up various electronic devices such as iPods and smartphones, but musical instruments as well. More fans are getting free downloads, and of course that’s at the expense of the recording and publishing industries. Most amateur musicians will never go professional, but simply enjoy themselves on the weekends.  This goes together with listening and buying music, cultivating an appreciation that can last a lifetime. Some of the output may be awful, but remember it’s coming from a population that really loves music.

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