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Does the Web really spread sales?

In response to the May 21 Perspectives column by Evan Hansen, "Steve Jobs' half note":

You wrote:
"Currently, a mere 2 percent of releases account for 80 percent of music industry sales. Online distribution could help rebalance that ratio, building careers for hundreds of artists who now linger in obscurity, and drawing in millions of new fans bored and alienated by the industry's star-making machinery."

I am amazed that so much of the sales come from so few releases. But given that fact, I wonder why you believe that some kind of online distribution could spread that number out so that say, 80 percent of the sales came from 20 percent of the releases. Is there any evidence to support such a change?

It would seem to me more reasonable to assume, even with the greater access to an audience afforded by online distribution, that the industry sales would still remain highly concentrated.

You raise Amazon.com, which might be a good analogy. (Though I would bet that book sales are less concentrated than music.) Still, it would be interesting to see what Amazon's sales distribution looks like. I would bet that the vast majority of its sales come from the same best sellers that comprise the bulk of the sales at brick-and-mortar rivals such as Barnes and Noble.

Rick Mandler
New York

 

 

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