Classical Music: Sales Juggernaut of 2006
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Like many orchestras, the New York Philharmonic is working to reverse years of declining records sales. Well, the orchestra and the entire classical music world just got a surprising boost. A report on record sales in 2006 finds that classical music was the fastest growing genre. Album sales increased 22.5 percent from 2005.
NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.
ELIZABETH BLAIR: If you consider yourself a fan of traditional classical music, you might find Nielsen Sound Scan's report a little confusing. Among the Top Ten bestselling classical artists were Sting, Josh Groban and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
(Soundbite of music)
BLAIR: These crossover artists are superstars and sell thousands more albums than their traditional counterparts. Nielsen's year-end report combines the two categories. Anastasia Tsioulcas, a columnist for Billboard magazine, says there's always hope within the music industry that someone like Sting or Bocelli will draw more people to classical music as a whole. She says so far that hasn't really happened.
Ms. ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS (Billboard): I think what we're seeing in the long-term is when people buy, say, a Bocelli album, they don't go out and then buy a Puccini opera. They go out and buy another Bocelli album. They're not identifying Bocelli as classical music per se. They're much more fans of that artist.
BLAIR: Still, some labels that stick to the classical repertoire are also reporting good news. Independent labels like Koch and Nexus say their sales are also up. And downloading is a big part of it. The total number of classical albums purchased online more than doubled last year.
Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.
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