Andrea Bocelli: the Pavarotti of classical music sales?

23 July 2012, 17:09 | Updated: 23 July 2012, 17:11

After a 14% slump in music sales this year, and an estimated 5% annual decline in classical music markets, will modern artists ever sell as well as Luciano Pavarotti?

After a 14% slump in music sales in 2012, retailers are being starved of new albums throughout the year as producers attempt to cash in on demand at Christmas. But how is this making its mark on the world of classical music?

With the rise of the Classical Singles Charts, championed by crossover artists such as Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson, music consumers are shifting their allegiance and buying individual tracks, rather than full albums. The quality of digital downloads is also improving, so the humble CD is quickly losing its lead as the best format to buy high quality classical music.

An HMV spokesperson said the shift towards digital downloads was not as pronounced as in pop and rock music, but the economic downturn has caused a knock on effect on consumers’ disposable income. While there are still a number of core buyers who appreciate a whole body of work by a specific composer, consumers often download their favourite music from a TV advert or a film soundtrack.

He said: “Notwithstanding the laudable efforts of Classic FM in helping to popularise classical music so that it reaches the widest possible audience, there are fewer classic global superstars such as a Luciano Pavarotti to inspire and capture the imagination, drive sales and support this all-important cross-over with the mainstream.

“We do need these core artists. Alfie Boe’s done very well. We have Russell Watson and Andrea Bocelli, but Pavarotti played an incredible role in driving sales. It’s different now.“

Other artists driving the sales of classical music include Renée Fleming and Lang Lang, whose sales spiked after they performed at the Diamond Jubilee concert in June. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is also taking advantage of widespread digital sales, and has just released a download only album.

Do you buy individual classical tracks? Or do you prefer to own full works on CD? Let us know.