Sunday, July 11, 2010

The size of the niche

The latest (July/August) issue of Fanfare brought me up short when I read the annual "Statement of ownership, management, and circulation", which is required by U.S. law. The (average) total paid circulation per issue over the past year was a tiny 3,420. In 2009 it was 3,412; in 2008, 4,367; in 2007, 4,297. Why the drop between 2008 and 2009? They seem to have stopped over-the-counter sales, which only accounted for about 800 copies.
Of course, Fanfare is available as a web-only subscription too, which these circulation figures don't address. But still, 3,420 is pretty damn small. Playboy has a circulation of 2 million in the U.S., but obviously collecting classical music recordings is not as common a pastime as masturbating reading interesting articles. Or shooting things - the NRA's American Rifleman sells 1.7 million copies. So Americans are 500 times more interested in Glocks than Gluck. Rolling Stone, nearly 1.5 million; and so on. Jesus, Canadian Home Workshop sells 97,000 copies (all figures via Wikipedia, of course).
American Record Guide doesn't have a web-only option, but is still available on (some) shelves. Its January/February 2010 statement puts average total paid circulation in 2009 at 4,611, including 1,093 non-mail sales. For 2008, it's 5,905 (2,112 non-mail); for 2007, 5,617 (1,886 non-mail). So in terms of mail subscriptions, Fanfare and ARG have roughly the same circulation. I wonder how much overlap there is - probably quite a bit, collectors being what they are.
But we can safely say that there are between about 4,600 and 9,000 people, presumably mostly Americans, sufficiently interested in collecting classical recordings to purchase a magazine dedicated to that pursuit.
In 2008, there were 16,272 murders in the U.S. My hobby is less popular than killing people.

1 comment:

Cruz said...

I was just in Borders last night and found International Record Guide, but NOT American Record Guide. I do subscribe to Gramophone (not mentioned in your post ... because it's British?). The circ numbers you cite are truly disheartening, but it's good to know there at least 4,599 others out there with the same devotion to music.