Survey: Reading the Fine Print…
Print media of all types has been experiencing a sea change (don’t we know it!) and music folios are no exception.
We recently polled over 200 MMR subscribers and print music dealers to find out their experiences in the current climate, the expectations for the coming year, and their general observations on the market. While just over half reported being affected by the advent of digital and online “print music” options, it’s notable that those who do feel the impact of these technological advances feel it strongly. “It is easy for people to utilize online sites to obtain music and tablature instead of buying the print copy,” says Alissa Saucier of The Music Shop in Southington, Conn. Phil Sollar of San Mateo, California’s Drum Worlds puts it in even stronger terms: “The Internet, with no tax and free shipping is killing the music business and small dealers.”
Read on to see what our survey respondents had to say about all things print in 2012…
Compared to this time last year, print/sheet music sales are…
What types/genres of print music are selling best?
“Classical Piano, Instrumental, Vocal, and Choral Pop/Rock Instrumental Band Methods/Instructional Broadway Folios Single Sheets Print on Demand Sheets Concert Band & Jazz Ensemble Arrangements.”
Northern Music & Video
“Instrumental music is up 9%, band music is up 40%, keyboard music is down 22%, popular music is down 29%.”
“Billboard Top 100 & 200 titles in both sheet and collection ‘Catalog’ selections (i.e. Beatles, Eagles, et cetera) are selling well, as are instructional materials (all instruments).”
What price points are doing best?
Have you noticed an impact on your sales of print music with the advent of digital folios?
“Method book and books with CDs have remained steady. Sales of pop folios, sheet music, and TAB books have dropped off substantially.”
“Like everything else, the print music market is redefining itself. Content remains important, but ‘format’ is in a period of change. Digital has entered the market place so dependable school music method sales simply are no longer ‘dependable.’ Directors are morphing into online systems, which affects local retail sales of print music.”
Contemporary Music Center
Chantilly & Haymarket, Va.
“The bigger stores and online retailers keep getting bigger, small to medium size music stores selling print music can’t keep up for several reasons, volume pricing, digital files from publishers, or like the rights to make more selection available from digital media. There’s a growing concern about tablets…”
What other trends have you been noticing in print music sales?
“Method books are still one of the biggest sellers, for piano and guitar especially, and pop radio hits are always good to have in stock.”
The Music Shop
“Our online sales are less than half because Hal Leonard and Alfred started selling direct from their websites a couple of years ago. It has all but killed our online business, even though we are on the first page of a Google search. We are a small store and have been very successful for 27 years, but sell only print music. Forced retirement is certainly a possibility with us in the next year or two, which will leave our area with no print music store.”
“The upside is that I’ve been getting a better margin from some of the publishers than before –— Hal Leonard in particular. Alfred has always been great to work with and I’m always happy when I get a request for an Alfred publication.”
Los Alamos, N.M.
“Guitar [print music] is dead. Free tabs are on the Web.”
Three Village Music
east Setauket, N.Y.
“Well, they can only print what’s available. There seems to be a lack of originality in popular music these days and it’s damn hard to put rap crap on paper…”
Don Banks Music
What are your projections for print sales in the coming months?
“2012 has started out well and we’re anticipating sales to continue to be strong throughout the rest of the year.”
“I think we will do more print business this year primarily because we are focusing on it a bit more than we have in the past.”
“I hope to increase my sales in this area. I do not carry all of the teaching series for piano in my store, I order for my teachers. This way I can offer a better selection of books for the general population.”
Simple Sounds, Inc.
“Hopefully everything will stay level as the forthcoming economy does not look promising.”