This week’s US best-seller sold under 200 copies

This week’s US best-seller sold under 200 copies


norman lebrecht

January 09, 2017

There’s a doubly gloomy set of Nielsen Scan statistics this week.

Apart from Il Volo – who are not really classical and shifted 900 units – no classical recording broke 200.

Daniil Trifonov was top, for what it’s worth, with 190.

But what’s really, really depressing is that an appearance on The Late Show by the South African soprano Pretty Yende made hardly any impact on her record sales.

She might as well have gone to bed early that night.


  • Tom Moore says:

    Alas, this is now “old news”, “man bites dog”, is it not? It would be the opposite that would deserve a headline.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    LOL. These classical music/opera popularizing efforts as so outdated and ineffective. Worse, unintelligent. DOA. When will these people learn?

  • V.Lind says:

    Piano is always going to outsell opera in the US. Odds are the opera will not be in English. You know how well foreign movies do. Americans — the vast majority of the non-passport-holding masses — do not like foreign words or songs or movies.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    The sad truth is that classical music on Colbert’s Late Show helps burnish Colbert, but not really the artists. The audience gives standing ovations and they love and appreciate the “class” that classical musicians or ballet dancers bestow, just not enough to buy the product or develop an interest in it. When they stand and ovate they’re standing in appreciation of Colbert and themselves for showing good taste. Yes, it’s very circular.

  • me! says:

    People may have looked to youtube to hear her, or simply keep an open mind in future, building positive experiences with it. Exposing people to opera and opera singers is fantastic and needs to keep being done, geez. Don’t expect immediate record sales!

  • Itsjtime says:

    IDEA* perhaps choosing 5 YouTube videos from votes submitted by SD readers. Then leaving this list clearly visible on the home page for a month. Then we can discern a roundabout number of views based on the influence of the SD readers and how they choose to share and watch these videos.

    I don’t give a shit about how many Silk Road cd’s yo yo sells or how many Lang Lang- apalooza tickets are sold .

    I do find it interesting to see that there are “___millions views” of Jarvi conducting a Beethoven symphony.
    Have you ever took a look at the number of views on a Kleiber video and thought “wow! There are actually more people on this earth with good taste than I had previously thought!!!!”

    Maybe my idea is crap….but there has gotta be a better way to quantify “popularity”. Perhaps crowdsourcing is worth a shot.

    • Ungeheuer says:

      Don’t be fooled. If you are referring to YouTube views stats, many channels employ bots to prop up view counts. So it is not real people viewing. It is a known phenomenon.

  • Feurich says:

    I’m curious, does this include downloads or only actual CD sales?

    • Selpak says:

      Must be only CD sales.
      For example, if one is subscribed to Spotify (as I am), I can get Trifonov’s CD without downloading it – just by streaming it whenever I want.
      So, although less people are buying CD’s it does not necessarily mean that less people are listening.

  • Richard says:

    Does anyone know if Nielsen surveys include major online retailers like Arkiv Music, Amazon, HB Direct and even Blowitoutahere? If not, I question the validity of their data as measures of classical sales in the US.

  • Joe says:

    I work for a company that sells overstocks and deletions of classical music through its website. This past Sunday morning, we listed a 12-CD set on the ORF [Austrian Radio] label, containing works by the composer Friedrich Cerha. As of this writing, we’ve sold twenty-five copies, a total of 300 discs. Does this make Cerha the best-selling composer of the week? I ask because of the recent publicity naming Mozart as the best seller of 2016, based on sales of a huge, multi-CD set: