What If Music Sales Used The Box Office Format? - Noise11.com
Dan Sultan at the Age Music Victoria Awards photo by Ros O'Gorman

Dan Sultan at the Age Music Victoria Awards photo by Ros O'Gorman

What If Music Sales Used The Box Office Format?

by Paul Cashmere on August 7, 2017

in News

Imagine if the music chart was compiled the way it is done with movies titles … by box-office takings.

The music chart is a pure volume game. The title with the most sales is number one. The one with the least sales is at the arse end. (Also these days a formula has been included to take into consideration streaming).

That works when the price point is the same for all titles but it isn’t.

The issue with the music chart is that to get a great chart position often a release is discounted to give consumers an incentive to buy. When you look at a chart you only see “the sausage”. You don’t seen “how the sausage was made”.

The movie industry has a safeguard. As well as number of tickets sold, the industry factors in what the ticket was sold for. If a movie company discounts a ticket, then the title has less impact on the box office chart. That works as a snap-shot of the week but in the long run a 35c The Sound of Music ticket in 1965 starts to compete with the price of a ticket today.

When you look at this week’s music chart, The Voice’s Judah Kelly at number 3. That gives the TV show an illusion of success. It suggests The Voice can make you a star. But can it?

At number five on this week’s chart we have a real singer songwriter in Dan Sultan. Dan is the real deal, a true performer who has played live for years and spends years, not weeks creating music. His third album ‘Killer’ is one you can play over and over.

Dan Sultan’s ‘Killer’ wasn’t discounted like a cheap sampler the way the Kelly album was. Dan Sultan ‘Killer’ retailed for $16.99, Kelly’s Count on Me for $9.99.

If the music industry applied the movie industry formula to the chart, Dan Sultan’s ‘Killer’ would have been the number one Australian album this week. Sultan’s ‘Killer’ did over $10,000 better in box-office figures than Kelly’s ‘Count On Me’.

Another massive gap in the two titles occurred in the streaming chart. Sultan has the no 8 album for streams this week, Kelly is at no 338 meaning that from a Spotify perspective, ‘Count On Me’ is most likely going to be a one-week wonder once its marketing umbilical chord is removed.

That is even more likely true based on today’s iTunes figure. ‘Count On Me’ has already departed the Top 50.

About two months ago streaming figures were included in the chart formula. The formula treats approximately 150 streams as one sale.

The problem with that however is that a physical sales are counted once at the time of purchase. A stream is counted at the time of access. If the consumer streams a title 150 times over, say, a three-month period, then those ‘sales’ are counted over 13 charts. If you buy the same title and listen to it 150 times over a three-month period, you are only counted in the first chart. The consumer actions are different and the chart is skewed, disadvantaging new music and creating a long-tail apparition.

The chart formula isn’t right yet but it worked a lot better when the industry wasn’t comparing apples with oranges. But then again, maybe smoke and mirrors is what its all about.




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