Martin Kettle, The Guardian: "Twenty years ago, the giant corporations that dominated the classical recording industry were turning out around 700 new releases every year. Today, just two are still in the business. Production is down to around 100 new discs a year — many in the crossover repertoire that purists would not accept as 'classical' at all — and falling.... The only dispute about classical recording is whether it is dying or dead."
Millions of CDs shipped in 1990, according to the RIAA ("net after returns"): 286.5
Percentage of classical (according to RIAA consumer surveys, genres self-described): 3.1
Millions of classical CDs presumed shipped in 1990 (applying the above percentage to the total): 8.88
Millions of CDs shipped in 2005: 705.3 (does not include digital downloads)
Percentage of classical: 2.4
Millions of classical CDs presumed shipped in 2005: 16.9
Millions of units downloaded in 2005 (all genres): 383
Reported percentage of classical music in iTunes sales: 12
Number of new releases listed in the November 1988 issue of Gramophone magazine: 284 CDs and LPs, 19 Compact Disc Videos. Includes such titles as Baroque Weekend, Best of Baroque, Baroque Favourites, and Movies Go to the Opera.
Labels represented on the Nov. 1988 list: Abbey, Amon Ra, ASV, CBS, Chandos, Conifer, CRD, Decca, Dell’Arte, DG, EMI, Gamut, Harmonia Mundi, Hyperion, John Goldsmith, Kingdom Records, Music Discount Centre, Nimbus, Olympia, Philips, Pinnacle, PRT, RCA, Saydisc, Target, Unicorn-Kanchana, Virgin Classics.
Number of new releases listed in the March 2007 issue of Gramophone: 401 CDs, 35 DVDs. Plus 66 more CDs and 14 more DVDs in the North American section. Total: 516.
Labels represented: Accent, Accord, Alia Vox, Allegro, Altara, Alto, Ambroisie, Andromeda, APR, Arbiter, Ars Harmonica, Artek, Arthaus Musik, ASV, Atma, Audiomax, Audite, AVI, Avie, Bel Air Classiques, Berlin Classics, BIS, Bluebell, Bongiovanni, Bridge, Brilliant Classics, British Music Society, Calle Classics, Calliope, Capriccio, Caprice, Carus, Cello Classics, Challenge, Chandos, Christophorus, Classics for Pleasure, Claves, Cold Blue, Columna Musica, Concert Artist (oops!), Coro, CPO, CRD, Cybele, Dacapo, Daphne, Decca, Delphian, Deutsche Grammophon, Digital Classics, Divine Art, Doremi, Dramatico, Dux, Dynamic, Easypcbands, Edicions Albert Moraleda, Editions Hortus, EMI, Enchiriadis, Endeavour Classics, Etcetera, Eufoda, Euroarts, Fineline Classical, Forum, Fuga Libera, Genuin, Globe, Glossa, Great Opera Performances, Guild, Hallé, Hänssler Classic, Hardy Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Hat Hut, Hevhetia, Hungarton, Hyperion, Immortal, Istituto Discografico Italiano, K617, Kairos, Lancashire Sinfonietta, Licanus, Lindberg, Linn, Loft Recordings, LSO Live, Lyrita, MDG, Melodiya, Membran, Meridian, Milan, Mirare, Mode, Music & Arts, Musique en Wallonie, Myto, Naïve, Naxos, New World, Nimbus, NMC, Oboe Classics, Oehms, Olive, Ondine, Onyx, Opus Arte, Orfeo, Paradizo, Pentatone, Phaedra, Piano 21, Pneuma, Ponto, Praga Digitals, Priory, Profil Medien, Proprius, Quantum, Ramee, Raumklang, Regent, Regis, Resonance, RVTE Musica, Sain, Signum, Sisyphe, Skarbo, Somm, Sony Classical, Stradivarius, Tacet, Tahra, Tall Poppies, TDK, Telarc, Testament, Timpani, Tudor, Ultraphon, Urania, Verso, VAI, Virgin Classics, VMS, Walhall, Warner Classics, Wergo, West End, Wigmore Hall Live, Zig Zag Territories.
Some significant labels not included in the above list: Albany, Centaur, Channel Classics, col legno, Cantaloupe, Danacord, Delos, Donemus, Dutton Laboratories, ECM, Gimell, innova, Koch, New Albion, Nonesuch, Orange Mountain, Phoenix, Starkland, Tzadik.
Classical crossover releases listed: 0.
Composers not reviewed in Nov. 1988 who were reviewed in March 2007: Adams, Alexiadis, Andriessen, Antoniou, Araujo, Bassani, L. Berkeley, M. Berkeley, Börtz, Boulez, Cannabich, Cavalli, Ceuleers, Chapí, Comes, Dallapiccola, Davies, Deng Yuxian, Du Ming-Xin, you get the point.
Conclusion: The major labels are much smaller than they used to be. But classical recording is bigger than ever.
— Alex Ross