Hi Brenda:

This is an interesting question. There's a huge gray area with this -- namely albums that are now 
out of print on CD but are readily available in lossy-download formats (and, in a few cases, also 
available in full-rez downloads). For instance, Verve Music Group division of Universal has a whole 
web area called Verve Vault that lists many albums available only on iTunes and sometimes as Amazon 
downloads. Many or all of these were once out in CD, so Verve had digital masters so it was no big 
deal to produce lossy-format download files. I can't think of any titles that weren't out on CD, in 
fact, either worldwide, Japan only or USA only. The same is true for Blue Note -- some titles are 
now out of print but readily available at Amazon (sometimes for as little as $3.50 per album) and 

The only cases I know of where something is released for download-only with no ability to buy a CD 
(or LP or 45-single) because none were printed, would be very-indie self-made albums and special 
one-off singles, like for instance the famous Bed Intruder song that was a YouTube and then iTunes 
sensation. You could also count cheapo compilations like Rhino Hi-5 collections on iTunes, but all 
of those tunes or at least the vast majority of them are in print on CD elsewhere.

In the classical world, some orchestras may be releasing concerts as downloadable files only now, 
but those typically weren't published on CD anyway.

I would say that some indie albums sell many more downloads than physical media, given that the CD's 
are sometimes hard to purchase (ie not at Amazon or very costly at Amazon or must be purchased, at 
full list price, directly from the artist). But almost every smaller-time artist I've ever seen or 
known prints CD's because they sell them at live events if nothing else.

Finally, the last figures I saw, which were for 2009, showed CD's vastly, _vastly_ outselling 
downloads as far as dollars but the big issue was that downloads were gaining as far as numbers, and 
all of those numbers gained were sold dirt-cheap compared to a printed CD. Given the cost of 
inventory and the demise of any large-scale sales channel beyond Amazon and Wal-Mart, companies are 
taking back-catalog and slow-selling recent released out of print quickly, figuring it's cheaper to 
make less with the downloads but not have the headache of physical inventory.

Meanwhile, I've been collecting lists and catalogs of new-issue vinyl and I estimate there are now 
more than 5000 titles in active catalogs, probably more if you could Japan-only releases and even 
more if you count gray goods. This is a drop in the bucket compared to still-available-cheap CD's, 
but who'd a thunk it?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nelson-Strauss, Brenda" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 1:49 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Digital download stats

I know there are stats for the number of tracks purchased as digital downloads vs. number of 
physical copies purchased.  But does anyone know if there are stats available for the number of 
online-download-only tracks/albums being published? That is, music for which no physical CD or LP is 
produced for sale.  I am trying to track how rapidly the change from physical copies to online-only 
is progressing.


Brenda Nelson-Strauss
Archives of African American Music and Culture
Indiana University
2805 E. 10th Street, Suite 180
Bloomington, IN 47408
[log in to unmask]
(812) 855-7530