Tag Archives: Single Sales


The release of music sales stats halfway thru 2013 are always time for analysis. This year offers some figures that could probably bolster many people’s arguments, depending on how you’d like to skew the data.

The main highlight is that in the US, digital singles have declined 2.3% year-over-year. Even more interesting is that the Q1 decline was 1.34%, while it was 3.3% in Q2. Many people will suggest that streaming usage is finally eroding single sales. This may indeed be the case, but where is the erosion taking place? It’s actually in the middle and the bottom. For while sales are down, the number of titles selling over 1 million copies actually increased 8.5%. The biggest selling title, “Thrift Shop”, sold over 5 million copies, which is similar to last year’s top seller by this point (Gotye).

Certainly, streaming is likely to erode sales in the future. Where this is eroding sales in the present is in the niche and fringe songs, not in the hits. If anything, what also seems to be happening is that the gap between revenue of hits and non-hits appears to be widening. This can be occurring due to a multitude of factors. Streaming availability is one, but so is the abundance of song titles available to the public. As we head to a point where digital single sales are likely plateauing, it becomes increasingly clear that the hits are taking up an ever-increasing percentage of this pie.

Where the niches may be finding success is in the digital album sale. The one sales increase stat so far this year is digital albums which are up 6.3%. Overall album sales are down, but that could be due to an increasingly shrinking shelf space at retail amidst tighter ordering of physical product. This suggests that while niche single sales might be down, niche album sales of quality acts might be on the rise. This can certainly explain recent career-strong debut weeks for acts as varied as Queens Of The Stone Age, The National and Wale. On top of that, the albums that have sold “gold” (500,000 or more) in the first 6 months of this year also increased 36%.

Certainly streaming will continue to affect sales numbers as they become more pervasive. For the moment, though, the hits increasingly take up a bigger piece of the pie and it becomes more incumbent to hit those benchmarks in order to make a profitable music venture.

Another bright note…for the second year in a row, the top selling single is a song developed independently by the artist and then upstreamed to a major.


“I always find it baffling when artists say that they have to tour all the time or they wouldn’t be making money, when I’m sitting here making my own music and videos and earning enough off both those things to live (in fact the money I earn from either of those would be alone sufficient to live), so I have to conclude that they’re doing it wrong. Either they have unnecessarily extravagant lifestyles or they’re just stuck in a shit deal. The music industry’s very strange. That’s why I’d like to change it :)” – Alex Day

Alex Day is a UK artist who cracked the Top 5 last December without any record company or management team. He’s sold over 100,000 singles on his own. His search activity is at a level that nearly rivals buzz band Alabama Shakes. In our recent conversations, we discussed SxSW and why he doesn’t need to perform live. The quote above came from that chat. His experience is certainly proving that you CAN make money with recorded music. You can do it by yourself. It’s not about just one path.

His new video, “Lady Godiva”, has gotten over 300,000 views in less than a week. The top YouTube result for Alabama Shakes got that much in 6 months. It’s not that one artist is better than another. It’s that you can make your success as long as you focus on what you’re good at.

And what did YOU do last week?