Tyrone Rubin thinks and learns

3 March 2010 – Gil Scott-Heron’s new album ‘ I’m New Here ‘ and how I stopped worrying about the music industry

Posted in Art, Internet, Music by Tyrone Rubin on March 3, 2010

Please note I do a lot of generalizing in this post. I cannot be very specific as the music buying power is made of billions of people so I was forced to make assumptions and generalizations. So once again, please keep that in mind when I go into my demographic analysis.

I started listening to the new Gil Scott-Heron album ‘I’m New Here‘ the other day and it really blew me away. The soulfulness of this album and beautiful voice of this artist have made  a lasting impact on me. For whatever reason, this deviates me into writing about a huge interest I have, which is in the business side of things, the business side of film and music and pretty much everything. One of my tendencies is to look at the Amazon sales rank of an album. It is one of my favourite music album commercial metrics. There is of course the billboard charts, itunes and many other forms of music distribution platforms but the reason I like to look at Amazon is that I feel its somewhere in the middle, in terms of both market and medium. In terms of market, I feel it has one of the broadest markets in terms of demographics. I feel itunes draws mostly a younger audience, which I will attempt to prove later in the post. The physical stores bring in a certain age group range, but I feel Amazon is one of the best measurable levelers. It sits somewhere very comfortably between old media and new media. Old media being that the physical CD is still being delivered through the most advanced new media platform around. Amazon has been, and still is, the leader in mass e-commerce. Back to the album in question which is currently ranked number 140 on Amazon and rising. I think that’s fantastic since that is number 140 out of all the millions of CD’s that Amazon sells. It might rise up the ranks and get even more popular. The reason I feel that Amazon is a type of leveller is that it has the broadest demographic of buying power, and allows for all the genres of music to succeed, on an equal playing field. To further my point I am going to look at 3 major music distribution charts, dating Wednesday 3 March, 3:30am GMT. I will analyze the top 20 best sellers on each chart to make my point about Amazon having the most diverse demographic audience.

1. Apple itunes charthere

Younger demographic buying Back Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Jason Derülo, Danny Gokey, Easton Corbin, Jamie Cullum, Kesha, Raheem DeVaughn, Alice Soundtrack. Somewhere in between younger and older demographic buying, Sade, Lifehouse, Pheonix, Blake Shelton, Matt Wertz, XX, Lady Antebellum. Older demographic buying Peter Gabriel, Johnny Cash

2. Amazon bestesllers in musichere

Younger demographic buying Danny Gokey, Jamie Cullum. Somewhere in between younger and older demographic buying Sade, Peter Gabriel, Lady Antebellum, Susan Boyle, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Crazy Heart Soundtrack, K. D. Lang, Gorillaz, Blake Shelton, The Canadian Tenors, Michael Bublé, Joanna Newsom, Lifehouse, John Hiatt (he might fall inbetween this demographic and the older demographic, not too sure)  Older demographic buying Jimi Hendrix, Jonny Cash, Jeff Beck

3. Billboard top 200 albumshere

Younger demographic buying Back Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Kesha, Rihanna, Alvin and the Chipmunks CD. Somewhere in between group demographic buying Sade, Lady Antebellum, Lil Wayne, Susan Boyle, Alicia Keys, Matt Wertz, Jaheim, Josh Turner, Mary J. Blige, Michael, TobyMac, Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood. Older group demographic buying

Conclusion: (no real great insight below)
I don’t want to go into a generalizational (cant think of a better word to use) conclusion, even though ,up front in the post I made apologies for doing so, but if I feel obligated to some form of  summarized analysis of the above music sales data from itunes, amazon and the billboard chart, which I will try my best to do. Before I do here is a quick summary of the three platforms of music delivery.

itunes – serves as a platform for the sale of direct download of mp3 albums (I have only been talking about albums and not singles this post).

Amazon – the chart I looked at is the specific chart for the ordering online of the physical CD to be physically delivered to a physical location. Amazon does have an itunes like download of the digital album platform here. On a quick glance all I will say very briefly is this demographic that is purchasing here is young than the demographic purchasing the physical CD.

Billboard chart according to wikipedia ‘The chart is based solely on sales (both at retail and digitally) of albums in the United States’. I was assuming while writing this post that the billboard chart covered sales in music stores only, but apparently it also covers digital downloads. For the metrics of physical store sales, i.e. the demographic who are mostly going to the physical stores selling physical CD’s and making physical purchases, I guess I would have to analyse the data from the majour retail CD outlet stores. But its too late for that now.

In concluding I will just say that it looks like the younger demographic are preferring to buy their music on itunes than order the physical CD from Amazon or the stores. Very obvious, does not take a genius to figure that one out, but it was fun doing this. As for which demographic is going to the physic stores and making the physical purchase of the physical CD I assume its quite broad still, maybe leaning towards the younger to middle age groups. The middle to older demographics are definitely the ones still purchasing the physical CD on Amazon and in stores. Come to think of it, why would any youngster with an ipod as his or her primary device for music consumption want a physical CD? Environmentally speaking it does not make sense as well as convenience, and so many other logical reasons I wont bother going into right now. I grew up in the tangible music age where I bought music from the stores, touched the CD’s I was purchasing. I did not have the internet to browse information, I used magazines.

Unfortunately I don’t feel there is any real fundamental knowledge gained here on the music industry but I hope seeing the itunes, amazon and billboard charts gives one a quick glance into music sales that are happening right now.

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