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Tunes Over Time: Seasonal Shifts in Music





To everything there is a season, and the music industry is no different. From holiday hits to summer jams, music trends vary with the weather. And understanding such trends can be crucial to success for artists, retailers and labels. So is there a “perfect” time to release a new album? Let’s take a look at trends throughout the year in the music industry.


Many artists, retailers and labels believe the December holidays combine the perfect elements of gift giving with the most popular artists. As a result, when we think of the busiest time of the year for new releases in the music industry, many usually focus on the fourth quarter. And there’s something to that—the last nine weeks of the year can typically make up to a quarter or more of all physical CD sales for the year and digital sales typically spike the weeks following Christmas (likely from gift card redemption). So the benefits of having a major release in the fourth quarter are obvious. But December doesn’t have an exclusive on gift giving in the U.S.

The first half of the year is also an excellent holiday marketing period for music with Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, not to mention the great exposure from the GRAMMY Awards Show. In fact, some of music’s most successful releases of all time, including ‘N SYNC’s No Strings Attached (11.2 million sales to date), Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me (11 million), as well as the two best-selling albums of the past decade with Adele’s 21 (10.9 million) and Usher’s Confessions (10.1 million), occurred during the first quarter of the year. Out of the top 20 albums sold in the last two decades, 30 percent of the titles were released in the first quarter. And despite the fact that the fourth quarter is usually thought of as the time for blockbuster releases, first-quarter releases make up a bigger share of the top 20 albums of the SoundScan era*.

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