…for this article, in which he describes sales of the #1 classical album as peanuts, and suggests that American artists might want to skip the country to somewhere they would be better appreciated. I left a comment on his blog, but he hasn’t published it. Luckily I have a blog of my own:

This is a complete distortion of the facts that counts on your readers not having read the IFPI report from which you’ve taken figures without clear attribution or proper explanation.

You’re using flawed logic and innuendo to predict the death of the industry, and you either haven’t read the report or you’re knowingly omitting facts that greatly undermine your position.

If you looked at the figures for the total size of the markets, you’d see that although classical represents a large proportion of the music sold in South Korea, the market is a rather smaller one.

You say that classical music doesn’t sell in the United States, when in fact the US and Japan remain the two largest markets for classical recordings.

If you were to look at last week’s Soundscan top 100, you’d see that crossover represents less than 1/3 of the music in it, with that share declining the further down the chart you looked.

2.5% seems like a small number, but Soundscan tells us that 373.9m albums were sold last year in the US*. 2.5% of that is 9.3m classical albums. If a third of them were crossover, that’s still 6m real classical albums.

Since the albums in the Billboard chart account for such a small percentage of these sales, the story you should be writing is about the diversity and vitality of our business – about the wonderful records that are still being made that never see the top ten, and about the innovation that is helping many companies to remain profitable in a tough economic climate.

Instead, you’re crying wolf again and dancing on the graves of the living in the process. You can do better than this.

* WSJ:

He sent me an email back, boasting about his experience and connections, but clarifying nothing about the statistics, and threatening consequences if I published what he’d written. He has, though, published a milder rebuttal from Eric Dingman at EMI Classics.

If anybody wants to tell me I’m wrong in a smugly superior tone, that’s what the comments are for – this is the Internet, after all.



Post a comment
  1. February 2, 2010

    I’m looking at your blog right now, but in my peripheral vision there’s nothing but tiny red valentine hearts, rising and swelling and bursting like bubbles.

  2. Joseph #
    February 2, 2010

    You GO boy!

  3. Jimmy #
    February 3, 2010

    Awesome. I too left a comment on his blog with a link to your previous article about stats which he hasn’t (yet) published. I did warn in my comment that he’d probably like to read your article if he were feeling ‘open-minded’. I guess he wasn’t which is a shame…

    • properdiscord #
      February 3, 2010

      I’ve been trying really hard to understand Norm’s perspective. It seems like he places a lot of value on the things certain people tell him. He told me that he’d known every leader of classical music industry for the last 30 years. I guess that if you asked the people who were running the business in 1980, they’d tell you that the game was up, mostly because almost none of them are working in the record business today. It’s not what it was, but that that doesn’t mean it’s over, and the continuing success of both Harmonia Mundi and Naxos just goes to show that there’s space at both ends of the market.

      I’m sure he enjoyed hearing from you. He probably thinks you’re one of the horsemen of the apocalypse, doesn’t he?

  4. Jimmy #
    February 4, 2010

    Ha! Not quite sure what he thinks of me. We tweet occasionally and he’s a facebook friend (the closest I have to real friends), but no idea if he approves of my playing…
    Will be sending him my new CD soon though so we shall see.
    You should check out his first novel though – Song of Names – extremely well written and very moving.

    • properdiscord #
      February 4, 2010

      I’m looking forward to hearing your album.

      Perhaps Norm should stick to fiction. It sometimes looks like he does.

  5. February 4, 2010

    Did Lebrecht offer any explanation for why he wasn’t approving your comment?

    • properdiscord #
      February 4, 2010

      He did approve some of it. If I hadn’t been so mean, he might have approved all of it, but I doubt it. I don’t think there was anything offensive or irrelevant about…

      “You say that classical music doesn’t sell in the United States, when in fact the US and Japan remain the two largest markets for classical recordings.”

      …but that didn’t make the cut.

  6. Jimmy #
    February 4, 2010

    ouch. He did just publish your comment BTW…

    • properdiscord #
      February 4, 2010

      Some of it.

  7. Vachon #
    February 5, 2010

    I thought Anne’s article was misinformed, but Norman Lebrecht takes the brass ring here. Yes, let’s send all classical artists to Europe because they won’t make millions on CD sales in the U.S. I guess he doesn’t download?

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  1. The Naxos Blog on Sequenza21 » The “Classical” music biz – Dead Again? I Think Not.

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