December 23, 2002
MacWizard's Analysis of Music Sales Refutes RIAA Arguments on Piracy

George Ziemann, owner of Azoz and MacWizards Music, has analyzed RIAA statistics on music sales, concluding the record industry released 25% fewer new works over the past two years compared to previous years (PDF: 38,900 in 1999, 27,000 each in 2000 and 2001), while sales have only dropped 6% over the same two years.

He points out that sales only started declining after Napster shut down, during the past two year's recession, when the average CD price was pushed above $14. If he is correct, the Music Industry released less new works, are more profitable per work (PDF: Dollars per released work, for 1999: $376,632.39, 2000: $533,481.48 and 2001: $507,407.41) and made more per individual CD sale. It appears from the RIAA's own spreadsheet (pdf) that despite the reduced product, they made money in 2001 on CD's, and lost on dying categories such as cassettes, CD singles (does anyone pay $4.50 for a single these days?), LP's and music videos.

Also, the RIAA stopped reporting on sales of Singles starting in 2001 (PDF). But Single sales are often held up as the big loss for record companies in terms of piracy losses, at around $50 million in 2000. He points out that the losses they claim at $4 billion from piracy can't just be made up from Singles and in fact that $4 billion number is very difficult to pin down otherwise.

According to the RIAA: "Each work counts as one release regardless of the number of formats actually produced (e.g., an album released simultaneously on vinyl, cassette and CD would count as one release)."

Azoz and MacWizards act as music publishers for independent bands and are members of ASCAP. They promote bands such as Hayden's Wall and are starting IndiePie, a Music, Film, Comedy and Arts Festival in Port Elmsley, Ontario, Canada from July 1 to July 4, 2003.

Posted by Mary Hodder at December 23, 2002 01:35 PM
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