Two faint glimmers in US classical sales

The latest Nielsen Soundscan data are as depressing as ever, with the top classical record clearing just 300 US sales in the past week and the next just 270. For the record, they are Andrea Bocelli and Andre Rieu. More gloom.

But coming up behind, in third and fourth place, are the Detroit Symphony’s self-issued Tchaikovsky cycle and – a new face in the charts – the DG harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani with Time Present and Time Past.

That’s promising, for all sorts of reasons.

mahan album

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  • Your post raises more questions than it answers.

    Are these retail store sales figures? I bought two CDs last week alone from Arkiv. Hard to believe that they accounted for such a significant percentage of the non-Rieu/Bocelli total.

    And what about classical DVDs and Blu-Rays? With so much repertoire already covered in a 1400-plus CD collection, I find it easier to justify duplication when I can add video and live performance to the experience. So I’m buying more of these and fewer CDs. I can’t be the only one.

    Does Nielsen count downloading? The iTunes store keeps expanding its selection. And Apple doesn’t drill dry wells.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        The numbers you cite would be truly dismaying if they were reflective of the classical music market in the US, but they may not paint the whole picture.

        They seem to leave out classical videos. As well as online mail-order sources like Amazon, Arkiv, Classical Music Superstore, etc. (all from whom I’ve bought physical media in the past few months). And if it’s only domestic sales, that would leave out overseas websites like Presto, Hyperion, Chandos, Classics Online, etc.

        With so many channels available to music listeners, a more telling measurement of the state of classical music in the US might be the total amount of money we spend on it—including both audio and video discs, offshore purchases, and concert tickets. But I have no idea how you’d go about getting that kind of data.

  • Thanks for the reply.

    The numbers you cite would be truly dismaying if they were reflective of the classical music market in the US, but they may not paint the whole picture.

    They seem to leave out classical videos. As well as online mail-order sources like Amazon, Arkiv, Classical Music Superstore, etc. (all from whom I’ve bought physical media in the past few months). And if it’s only domestic sales, that would leave out overseas websites like Presto, Hyperion, Chandos, Classics Online, etc.

    With so many channels available to music listeners, a more telling measurement of the state of classical music in the US might be the total amount of money we spend on it—including both audio and video discs, offshore purchases, and concert tickets. But I have no idea how you’d go about getting that kind of data.

  • If it’s true that online retailers like Amazon etc. are not represented int he numbers, then the numbers would indeed be complete bollocks. I know many people, including me, who like to purchase physical discs, but do so conveniently online.

  • I haven’t bought a CD from a store in nearly 15 years. But I have bought a considerable number through Amazon. I those sales are not counted in then I suggest that these numbers are completely bogus and should be ignored.

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