RIAA’s Sales Claims “Suspect”

Neilsen Soundscan is reporting that CD sales are increasing, yet the Recording Industry Association of America claim that business is bad. So what’s actually going on?

As reported in Digital Lifestyles last month, Neilsen is celebrating a 10% increase in sales, whilst the RIAA is still telling us that CD sales have plummeted because of copying and downloading.

It turns out that the RIAA’s claims are based on the total number of CDs shipped to record shops – not the numbers sold to customers, so this has no reflection on sales at all. Record shops are ordering less stock, but selling the stock they have faster. Having lots of cash sitting in your storeroom doing nothing isn’t good business sense when economies are suffering. Additionally, the RIAA also has a measure of control over the number of CDs shipped to stores, so it can influence the figure in any way it likes.

Soundscan recorded 146 million CDs sold in Q1 2003, against 160 million in Q1 2004 – an increase of nearly 10%. Figures for Q2, released this summer are expected to show yet another increase. The RIAA, on the other hand, are claiming a 7% decrease in revenue – but that’s purely through managing shipments and returns.

RIAA Radar

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?