[Marxism] Correction - recording industry sales statistics

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Sat May 29 16:10:38 MDT 2004

I wrote:

US, the UK and Japan feature at number one, two and three in the world's top
major music markets, together account for over half of world musical
recording sales.

In fact, US, Japan and the UK feature at number one, two and three in the
world's top 10
major music markets respectively, i.e. Japan is number two and the UK is
number three.
See for example http://www.ifpi.org/site-content/statistics/worldsales.html

However, I should add that even the accuracy of recording industry sales
statistics are being contested by critics.

The Recording Industry Association of America, according to one blog,
"reports a sale as a unit SHIPPED to record stores, not as a unit sold to
consumers at those record stores. Now here's where things get interesting:
The RIAA forecast a 7 percent decline in recorded music sales for 2004, but
data from market research outfit Soundscan, which measures point-of-purchase
sales, shows a 10 percent increase in music sales when comparing the first
quarter of 2004 to the first quarter of 2003. What does this mean? Sales of
recorded music haven't declined, shipments have. Retail outfits are moving
increasingly toward a just-in-time sales model. Rather than order more music
than they need and eat the overrun or pay to ship it back to the
distributor, they now order only what they think they need. This doesn't
mean retailers are selling less music (a retailer can order 1000 CDs one
month and sell 600 of them, 800 CDs the next and sell 700). But it does mean
that the RIAA can claim a decline in sales -- at least until a gust of fresh
air blows the smokescreen away. (...)  even though actual point-of-purchase
sales are up by about 9% in the US - and the industry sold over 13,000,000
more units in 2004 (1st quarter) than in 2003 (1st quarter) - the Industry
is still claiming a loss of 7% because RIAA members shipped 7% fewer records
than in 2003. Forget the confusing percentages, here's an oversimplified
example: I shipped 1000 units last year and sold 700 of them. This year I
sold 770 units but shipped only 930 units. I shipped 10% less units this
year. And this is what the RIAA wants the public to accept as "a loss." I'll
go a step further. This fact, that Sherman (president of the RIAA) seems to
confirm, should logically mean a smaller percentage of returns. But,
shouldn't fewer returns mean higher profit margins and faster turnaround;
and shouldn't that be good for both the retail and wholesale side of the
industry? "Sure," admits Sherman today, "but I have no idea what US
shipments looked like in the first quarter." Then how can he claim
world-wide "losses" in his March speech to Financial Times New Media?

That is to say, the argument is that the impact of piracy of recordings is
being exaggerated. For some discussion about the frontiers of copyright,
check e.g. this blog: http://www.drsnet.org/preoccupations/2004/05/

On my walk in the park, feeling rather fatigued, klutzy and stuffed today, I
chatted among others with a older woman who was walking her fox terrier. Her
social/political outlook, expressed in classic Dutch workingclass talk, was
that ordinary indigenous Dutch people were being given second place in
favour of foreigners and big business, she was somewhat sympathetic to Pim
Fortuyn "but he got killed". It was a bit of an ambiguous conversation with
her, but one critical comment she made is worth quoting: "people seem to be
constantly looking for more and more services for which they can charge the
cost to us". Which I thought was quite an interesting comment on the new
"services economy". The Netherlands still seems to be caught between a lot
of confused thinking about "multi-culturalism" (both in terms of the
empirical facts and the morality of entitlement to resources) and its
rejection of fascist ideology. Its not true that there are no racial
prejudices here, studies suggest at least a third of the population have
them, it is just that no consistent civil morality can be articulated and
consequently the gripes focus more on the rejection of particular
lifestyles. The enclosures in the service economy are accompanied by
enclosures in territory, real territory or semantic territory. Given a high
population density here, it is of course impossible to avoid getting people
you don't like in your field of vision, but people can put the blinkers on.
It's all in what you want to look at. The front page of Amsterdam's Het
Parool newspaper carried a picture this Saturday of the carcass of a dead
swan, in which a seagull had laid its eggs, taken near a motorway
intersection in the South-East. Somebody is letting the side down, seems


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