Music Sales At Retail Fall in 2005

No long-running album sales blamed, but there are clear indications that the customer wants something more than what’s being offered: Music biz blues: hot new releases burn out [pdf]

Compared with 2004 — which, in a tic of the calendar, had a 53-week retail year — the market for CDs plunged more than 10%. Based on a 52-week year, sales were down nearly 8%.

This crash — the worst since 2002, which witnessed a plummet of 10.7% — was all the more dizzying for retailers because the business appeared to be rebounding in 2004, when sales rose a modest but encouraging 3.8%.

Sadly, the writing was on the wall throughout the fourth quarter this year. In what is traditionally the critical period for stores, a parade of new titles experienced immediate and sharp sales spikes. Album sales were buoyed at year’s end by some long-running titles, greatest-hits compilations and a new entry in the perennially best-selling “Now” series.

In the entire fourth quarter of 2005, only one album enjoyed two consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200: Eminem’s hits collection “Curtain Call.”

[…] In an interesting measure of consumer fickleness, both “The Emancipation of Mimi” and “The Massacre” received big chart bumps when — taking a page from Usher’s long-running hit “Confessions” — they were re-released in enhanced editions containing fresh music and video content.

[…] [I]n another dispiriting reminder that the music game is being played differently these days, one of the biggest year-end titles wasn’t visible on the charts because it is being sold exclusively by one retailer.

Mass merchant Wal-Mart claimed initial sales of a half-million units for country superstar

Garth Brooks’ “Limited Series,” a six-CD boxed set that went on sale in late November. Because of the proprietary nature of the collection, it does not appear on Billboard’s weekly rundown.