The fat head of music sales is getting fatter

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I’m generally sympathetic to Chris Anderson’s argument that the Internet should shift the focus of the media business away from the fat head of blockbusters and toward the long tail of niche content. But it sure ain’t happening yet in music sales. From today’s W$J:

Thanks largely to aggressive pricing and advertising, big-box chains are now responsible in the U.S. for at least 65% of music sales (including online and physical recordings), according to estimates by distribution executives, up from 20% a decade ago. Where a store that depends on CDs for the bulk of its sales needs a profit margin of around 30%, big chains get by making just 14% on music, say label executives who handle distribution. One of these executives describes the shift as “a tidal wave.” Despite the growth in online digital music sales, physical CDs still are the core of the recording industry, accounting for about 85% of music sales.

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