How Mozart outsold Beyonce in CD sales in 2016
During 2016, Adele, Kanye West, Beyonce and Drake all did more than fine when it came to selling their music. Selling good old-fashioned compact discs was another story. Buyers went old school. According to Lars Brandle at Billboard, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sold the largest number of CDs. About 1.25 million discs were sold since the classical composer's box set was released. That was Oct. 28.
No, it doesn't signify some cultural shift. However, reports show young people are becoming pretty big squares. The rise of Mozart to the top of the charts comes from what might be a technicality.
Decca, Deuthsche Gramophone and the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation worked on Mozart 225. They created what may be the most epic boxed set of music ever produced. It is a 200-CD compilation. It costs $500. It includes every scrap of music Mozart ever wrote down. The limited edition set sold 6,250 units in its first five weeks. That equals 1.25 million CDs. And that puts it at the top of the charts.
So why release the Mozart set now? It celebrates the 225th anniversary of his death. It is record-setting in many other ways. It weighs 25 pounds. It includes 4,000 tracks. That is 240 hours of music. Those include some of the great performances of the last 100 years. In addition, there are alternate versions. These are performed on period instruments. A.J. Goldman of The Wall Street Journal writes that he admires the set. But he wonders who the audience for it really is.
"Admittedly, there is something admirable about such an obsessive approach. But how many people will want to listen to six discs of Handel arrangements," he writes.
Still, the set has hit a nerve with Mozart fans.
"It is wonderful to see the reaction to this box set," Paul Moseley tells Brandle. Moseley is the director of Mozart 225. "Mozart's immortal melodies are in some way part of all our lives. And this edition is the perfect way to celebrate that on his 225th anniversary."
This may seem like a crazy fluke. After all, since when has classical music passed pop music in CD sales? But Jordan Passman at Forbes reports that it makes sense. Sales of physical CDs hit a record low of 50 million in 2016. That was an 11 percent drop from 2015. On the other hand, streaming services and digital downloads for pop music are hitting new highs. Passman points out that classical music fans are sticking by CDs. Those are still the standard format for most listeners.
Passman also says this particular collection is selling for another reason. It's the novelty of the collection.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might music on CD outsell music in digital format?
Write your answers in the comments section below