Fact: Thousands of new releases do not achieve a single sale

Fact: Thousands of new releases do not achieve a single sale


norman lebrecht

February 20, 2017

A sobering thought from the Economist:

Of 8.7 million different tacks that sold at least one copy (last year), 96 percent sold fewer than 100 copies and 40 percent – 3.5 million tracks – were purchased just once.

(This) does not include the many songs on offer that have never sold a single copy,

Spotify said in 2013 that of its 20-million song catalogue at the time, 80 percent had been played – in other words the remaining four million songs had generated no interest at all.


  • Robert Holmén says:

    That’s pretty bad when even your mom won’t buy your song.

  • Peter says:

    In all fairness, those are mostly the songs, the digital revolution created itself, stuff made in mommy’s bedroom and the garage on a laptop, and which would not even have made to the demo screening process by A&R in theold days, less even been produced in these days. So it’s not really any loss, just the higher background noise of today’s low cost biz model.

  • Selpak says:

    A good piece of journalism would be to contact Spotify yourself, and enquire as to the statistic relating solely to Classical Music. They would surely have that information at hand (as they already seperate music by genre, and all it would take is to have a look at what songs haven’t been played yet).
    But of course, it is always easier to paraphrase what other papers write themselves.

  • Chris says:

    Perhaps this is not unlike libraries. I’ve sometimes wondered while visiting libraries if there were some books in there that never get checked out or even pulled off a shelf to be glanced at. I’ll bet there are some books sadly in those categories.

    • Myrtar says:

      Why sadly? Just because it has been published it doesn’t mean it’s a good book. The same applies to music, like these statistics show. Anyone can publish a book or an mp3, regardless of content or quality, that’s why most of it is junk.

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    I remember years ago a prominent jazz musician told me that his New York flat had been burgled. They took everything; furniture, clothes, pots and pans… The only thing they didn’t take were the recordings he had made.

  • Bugger Technology says:

    Download is a turn off to my 78/ 331/3 collection, would never buy this way. Even cars now are doing away with CD players so I have my wind up on the back seat!