How to Sell Music CDs in a Digital Era
Nov. 13, 2006 issue - The program looked like "MTV Unplugged." There was Barry Manilow, performing six songs and chatting with an interviewer - for QVC. The TV shopping channel sold 43,000 copies of Manilow's latest album, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties, along with a QVC-exclusive bonus disc, at $20 apiece.
That put Manilow almost halfway to a gold record before the CD is even released - sweet music to a battered record industry seeking unconventional ways to move 'real' CDs in a digital era. Physical album sales, in a tailspin for a decade, are off an additional 8.3 percent so far this year, according to Soundscan. 'If you can't bring people into music stores, you team up with other retailers," says Tom Corson, executive vice president of J/Arista Records, Manilow's label. QVC is one of many untraditional routes. [Full disclosure: the spellcheck on LJ says "untraditional" is not a word. What do you think?] Starbucks, aiming for a younger demo, has 20 CDs on sale at any one time. And Olivia Newton-John is now selling 1,000 copies a week of her latest album, Grace and Gratitude (along with a breast self-exam kit), exclusively through Walgreens.
I've blogged about thinking outside the bookstore box here and here.