The latest sales figures from NAMM have come out. These figures analyze demographics, instrument sales, American attitudes towards music making, and a bunch of other things that I won’t write here.
As expected, guitar is still king. That doesn’t comment much on how American music is changing. What does tell us that is the amount of electronic and computer music gear being purchased.
Guitars are grouped under a category called “fretted products”, so you can bet that we’re talking about guitars, basses, mandolins…all that jazz. Behind those in sales (by quite a large margin) is sound reinforcement, printed music (which is also said to be facing a piracy problem), percussion, and acoustic pianos. Actually, computer music products rank 10th with $318 million in sales in 2004 (compared to fretted products’ $1,272.52 million).
When it comes to growth, Computer Music products grew 16.48% since 2003 (they don’t specify, so I’m assuming it’s from the previous year). It’s 2nd only to electronic player pianos (my mom wants one of those actually…).
Electronic music hardware sales have been slowing down because of computer based solutions. Sound modules and drum machines are down, being replaced by software. The products that are still growing are electronic drums and stage pianos.
However, NAMM’s figures this year have not accounted for low-cost equipment, which surely has been on the rise since Apple released Garageband. Those will be factored in for next year.
Software developers have long pointed at the sales figures of hardware to point out piracy in their sectors. That may seem odd considering that software takes up more than half of the computer music sales from 2004, 58.2%. The other 41.8% is soundcards and related hardware. What’s also interesting is that since 1996, software has grown steadily, being 131.25% of what it was back then.
Hardware has made a large leap to 786.67% of what it was in 1996.
I’m not sure what this means for software, other than that it’s been a gateway for people to move into buying new equipment. Maybe what this means is that more software should have been sold to correlate with the growth of hardware.
Whatever it means, I’m not sure if developers need to worry so much about piracy. Yes, it reduces revenue and profits, but it also gives users an opportunity to use the software in a comfortable environment.
They shouldn’t think of them as criminals. They should be thinking of them as potential customers.
They should think this way because things aren’t going to change when it comes to their products. We’ve gotten used to the try before you buy mentality of P2P. It gives us the opportunity to do more research on software before we purchase. We can’t download hardware.
Like “real” music fans, “real” producers, studios, and electronic musicians will buy the software to work legitimately. Everyone else is just a hobbyist.
That doesn’t justify piracy and it’s understandable why the software developers are jealous over hardware sales. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if hardware sales slow down while software picks up in the future.