RIAA Releases Annual Consumer Profile

Recorded music was a $14.3 billion business in the United States last year, according to the newly published 2000 Consumer Profile from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Released March 13, the report details who music buyers are, what they are buying, and how much they are spending.

Rock still dominates the market, according to the report, with more than 25% of music buyers identifying themselves as rock fans. The genre has long been the industry's top seller, but the rap/hip hop genre has made big gains recently, overtaking Country music as second in popularity. A full 12.9% of the market now belongs to rap/hip hop, thanks to the huge successes of Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP, which sold more than seven million copies in 2000, Dr. Dre's Dr. Dre 2001 with six million sold, and Nelly's Country Grammar with five million. "It comes as no surprise to see the gain that Rap/Hip Hop has made when you consider that all of our major record labels produced many successful multi-platinum albums of that genre throughout the year," said RIAA president and CEO Hilary Rosen.

Country music is still a strong third, with a fan base of 10.7% of the music-buying population, the same percentage as in 1999. The pop genre dropped from 10.3% to 8%, with fewer hit albums than previously. Jazz is up to 2.9% of the market, having overtaken classical for fourth place. The classical genre claimed 2.7% of the market in 2000.

Where did music fans make their purchases? Approximately 3% of purchased recordings came from "legitimate online retailers," a category not defined in the RIAA's press release about its report, while 7.6% were sourced from mail order outlets or music clubs. "Non-traditional music outlets"—stores whose primary business is something other than music sales—went from 38.3% of the market in 1999 to about 40% in 2000. The remaining 49.4% of purchases were made at traditional music stores.

In contrast to the common wisdom that kids buy most of the recorded music sold, the RIAA's statistics show that music buyers over the age of 45 constituted 23.8% of the market in 2000. The 20-24 age bracket claimed 12.5%, those 25-29 and 35-39 each accounted for 10.6%, and the 30-34 group was 9.8% of the market. In all, adults bought 69.2% of the recorded music sold last year. The remainder was purchased by adolescent and teenaged buyers, whose numbers were "just slightly above flat" compared to the previous year. In 2000, 50.6% of music buyers were male, and 49.4% were female, according to the RIAA.

The full-length compact disc still rules the retail roost, accounting for 89.3% of all units sold. Sales of CD singles dropped by 50% from 1999's levels, a phenomenon many in the recording industry blame on the popularity of downloadable music. Pre-recorded cassette tapes are still selling, but not as well as previously, with numbers well down from 1990, when they amounted to a full 50% of all music sold. Music on cassette tape now accounts for only 4.9% of the market. The RIAA's annual consumer profile was compiled by Hart Research, which conducted monthly national telephone surveys of 3051 music buyers.