Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Michael Jackson Can't Help Sony Music Any More

Michael Jackson was such a huge star that he was able to stop the music industry’s perpetual slide: In the aftermath of his death last year, sales perked up at Sony’s music arm, which puts out the singer’s catalog.

But there’s no star big enough to permanently stop gravity. Now that Jackson sales have come back to earth, Sony reports that last quarter’s sales dropped another 10.8 percent, or a mere 6 percent if you strip out the effect of currency fluctuations. Operating income dropped 6.1 percent.

Reminder: Digital music sales, which were eventually supposed to overtake physical sales and push revenue back up once again, aren’t doing the trick. In the U.S., sales via Apple’s iTunes and other outlets are either flat or shrinking, depending on the sales data you’re looking at. (Which should make the labels either less likely or more likely to get deals done with the likes of Spotify. Take your pick!)

Meanwhile: Did you buy, or hear of, any of the following? Sony says they were bestsellers, at least comparatively: Yui’s “Holidays in the Sun,” Miliyah Kato’s “Heaven,” Kana Nishino’s “To Love,” Yannick Noah’s “Frontières,” Santana’s “Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time” and Kenny Chesney’s “Hemingway’s Whiskey.”

UPDATE: Billboard editor Bill Werde notes that Sony plans to release more Jackson this year, so perhaps it can wring out another bump. He also notes that he’s heard of Kenny Chesney. Me too! But I was surprised to learn that Yannick Noah has a post-tennis career as a musician.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle