Thinking Outside the XBox

The Black Friday Music Sales Are Up,

But You’d Never Know It If You Watch the News.

By Moses Avalon

Y’know, it just makes sense that the anti-music biz, pro-tech media has claimed that music sales were “dismal” for Black Friday, when the opposite is the reality.

It has me wondering just how in the pocket of the ISPs these media outlets are.Either that or how pathetically lazy the reporters at Reuters, AP and yes, even Billboard must be to propagate such a falsehood.

The sun had barely set on Friday when Billboard rushed to disseminate the bad news to Reuters and others; that music sales were down 30% compared to last year.How are they doing their assumptions: with data from, Best Buy and Wal-Mart? Who goes there to buy music?Not me.

Music fans go where they can get great selection and decent price. Not ones that only push the new releases as a bait and switch. I seriously doubt a single reporter called places like Amoeba Records, who deal in catalog and used CDs, to see what their stats are like for this year’s Black Friday.

In fact, I KNOW they were not called, because I called them myself, and guess what they told me: sales of new CDs were the same as last year, and sales of used product– were up.And yeah– no one from Billboard or any other media outlet called them.It’s as if this 20,000 square-foot record store on Hollywood and Vine, packed every Friday with music buyers, doesn’t even exist.

Even the small used record store down the street, Rockaway Records in Silver Lake, told me that “Our fiscal year was the best in fifteen years. Our sales in our on-line store have been record- breaking for CDs this season.”


Now, if you read between the tech-biased lines of the mainstream press articles you’ll see that the truth is in there.For example, Xbox sales were through the roof.Microsoft reported that sales of its gaming and entertainment console increased 25% compared with last year’s Black Friday.And the biggest selling bundled item with it: ROCK BAND!

Uh–for a free set of Bon Jovi tickets, what does that mean for the record companies, artists and songwriters whose material is licensed by that game?YES!That they made money.Those are “music sales” too.

If I said to you, “Well, we didn’t sell too much music, but we reached a new high in the sale of music-playing devices,” the logical mind would conclude that in the near future those same people will go out and acquire music to use on those devices.

But the press just reported the fact that CD sales in big-box outlets are down, as if that shows the entire picture.Well, chew on this: those same big-box retailers said that Black Friday’s best sellers were “smaller electronic gadgets.”In other words, Zunes, iPods and all the other things that play MUSIC.Some retailers claimed they were selling about one cell phone or MP3 player every 12 seconds.

Every twelve freein’ seconds!

Is it any surprise that CD sales are up in used record stores alongside MP3 players at Best Buy?

If Billboard’s editors don’t see the connection between the sale of “electronic devices” and the inevitable wake of increased music sales, then they need a lesson in basic economics as well as logical thinking.

The reality is that only top-line sales of new, major-label artists were down 30% on Black Friday.If the media wanted to be fair and balanced they would have made that distinction. Instead they (inspired by Billboard’s lead) duped the public into the wrong conclusion: that somehow people are not interested in buying music.The truth is that they are not interested in paying $16 for many of the new releases.Dark Side of the Moon is still moving off the shelves–even at $18–in a recession.

So, I say, Yahoo News etc, you’re a bunch of tech ‘hos and this week you proved it. Grow a pair and report the entire story, not just the version that pleases your sugar daddy.And Billboard, get up off your traitorous ass and do some actual investigating instead of just reprinting press releases that the retail and the tech industries feed you.

Mo out.

Missed me on CNN?Catch it here.

3 responses to “Thinking Outside the XBox”

  1. L. says:

    Good article. I remember seeing a commercial advertising a sale at Old Navy on Black Friday. Guess what each of their retail stores were giving away with purchases of $20 or more? If you guessed MP3 players, you’re right. (They gave away at least a few hundred MP3 players to the first shoppers to reach this $20 minimum.)

    Rock Band and Guitar Hero games are flying off the shelves so, as you stated, why aren’t those sales being counted towards music sales since they are music based products and require artists’ consent before their music can be used?

    Dr. Pepper promised Guns N Roses that when their “Chinese Democracy” album was released, Dr. Pepper would offer one free bottle of Dr. Pepper product to each person who visited their website. It was reported that, for some unknown reason, Dr. Pepper’s website was down and inaccesible to those who were trying to collect their free soda. (Did the system crash because of too many visitors?) Kanye West beat G N R in sales that week, but both West and G N R still charted well considering “sluggish” CD sales. Kanye’s album sales for “808’s and Heartbreak” were less than “Graduation,” but he didn’t have the media hype of a 50 Cent “feud” nor did this album have the promotion that Beyonce had with “I Am Sasha Fierce,” which was #1 last week if memory serves me correctly (and sold less than “B-Day).

    Let us not forget the Nokia Live $2 billion project in L.A. that was recently unveiled along with the Grammy Museum. I absolutely agree with you when you state that the media is falsely trying to lead people to believe that the recording industry is suffering when most of what I’ve seen lately in the media revolves around music and recording artists.

    There’s a new Adidas commercial featuring Missy Elliot, Young Jeezy, Katie Perry, Estelle and DMC of Run DMC. The only 2 athletes featured in the ad are Kevin Garnett and David Beckham. That is highly atypical for athletic shoe endorsements/companies. Even the new LeBron James Nike commercial features Lil’ Wayne. Add to that the fact that Soulja Boy has his own line of sneakers released at Finish Line retailers. The main thing all of these shoe companies and shoe retailers have in common is recording artists/music. These companies are receiving free “promotion” from many artists, such as Nelly, for songs like “Stepped On My J’s” (J’s standing for Air Jordans), and “AF1s” (Air Force Ones, also produced by Nike), also by Nelly.

    Keep up the fantastic work.

  2. Glenn Romano says:

    Actually, I am one of the six people who still buys CDs. My problem is that i can’t find anything anymore. I used to spend 45 min a week in Tower just sampling new music and going through the racks. Now the only retailer in my area is Best Buy. Well guess what, Best Buy reminds me of trying to buy music in Sears. Nobody knows anything. The store only stocks titles that move. So if you are a blues lover, forget it unless you want to buy some compilation from Blind Pig or Allegator. But try to find the latest Melvin Taylor or Tommy Castro CD. They don’t stock ’em. So I’m left with shopping on Amazon. Shopping there is a guessing game and very sterile. You can’t discuss anything with anybody. You can’t flip through the bins. It takes 45 min just to find anything you might want to spend your money on. So now I do my CD shopping three or four times a year when I drive 20 miles to the nearest retailer with an inventory and knowledgable people. I know I’m old school but forgive me the on-line shopping experience (which is here to stay) just gives me stress.

  3. katelyn says:

    Call me oldschool, but I don’t find it as much fun buying music online. @Glenn agreed…it is more fun to dig around in a real store. some things just can’t be replaced by ‘digital’ and virtual. my opinion

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