Recently the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, published its 2007 Record Industry in Numbers report, collating data from around the globe. I asked for a copy, hoping it might shed some light on the state of the classical record business, although industry figures have to be treated with due circumspection. One set of charts compares the classical share of the sales pie over the past several years in a dozen or so countries. No obvious pattern emerges from the numbers, either encouraging or catastrophic. The US data, furnished by Peter Hart Research / Taylor Research, shows a slide from 3% in 2002 to 2% in 2006. The figure has stayed at 2% for the past three years. The UK, too, reports a fall from 4% to 3% over the past five years; the Netherlands has gone from 9% to 6%. Other countries, however, show a rise. Germany has gone from 7% to 8%; Belgium from 2% to 6%; Hungary from 4% to 5%; France from 4% to 6%; Australia from 4% to 5%; and South Korea from 9% to 10%. Austria and Hong Kong share the highest percentage of classical sales: 11%. China overall is at 9%. The lowest figure, oddly, is for Ireland: 1%.
I have been unable to locate comparable figures for Japan, where, I suspect, the classical share is larger than anywhere else, but I did find this: "According to the Nikkei (Japan's leading business newspaper), CD sales declined 2.3% overall [in 2006], while classical CD sales gained by 10%. An especially interesting phenomenon that continued through the year's end was triggered by a leap in sales of comic books featuring stories about classical music in general and orchestras in particular. The theme was picked up for TV dramas as well, with the result that many young people started showing up at orchestral concerts." Reader Erica Chung sent me an e-mail about the manga and anime series Nodame Cantabile a few months ago. You can watch some of it on YouTube.