Townsend's Bruce McKenzie on how classic albums boosted D2C during the pandemic

Townsend's Bruce McKenzie on how classic albums boosted D2C during the pandemic

The recorded music industry is weathering the storm of Covid-19. But there have still been dips in revenue as a result of lost physical sales for the majors.

But that’s not the case for Townsend Music, a trusted e-commerce partner for majors and indies.

Music Week recently reported a key new appointment at the D2C firm, which is rolling out its Making Music platform for acts to bring a crowdfunding element into a campaign.

Despite the challenges of Covid, it’s been a growth period for Townsend. The company has reported 15% year-on-year sales growth during the lockdown period. So the pandemic did not adversely affect the company’s financial results for the 12-month period to August 2020. 

“We’ve been really busy during the lockdown period and have actually employed six extra full-time staff strengthening our marketing, finance and technical teams,” said sales director Bruce McKenzie. “We’ve just hit our year end, which has shown a 20% sales increase on last year. It is really encouraging, especially as many scheduled campaigns have been moved to roll out later this year.”

So with releases pushed back, how did Townsend still achieve sales growth?

“During lockdown, a lot of our label partners have been really good at putting together catalogue releases,” said McKenzie. “So we sold thousands of major label releases from bands including Coldplay, Iron Maiden, Metallica and New Order. People want to buy deluxe physical music and that's been a big part of our growth during lockdown – just celebrating classic records and making them available. Labels have been really proactive in in getting those reissues available in coloured vinyl, which people want.”

During lockdown, a lot of our label partners have been really good at putting together catalogue releases

Bruce McKenzie

McKenzie suggested that without gigs to spend money on, fans are investing in both catalogue and new releases on vinyl.

“I think it's definitely that,” he said. “And people are working from home and saving on traveling. We've not seen any slowdown at all during lockdown.

“For people who want vinyl, it doesn't matter when it's released. They are happy to stream it but they’re still committed to buying vinyl. If the content is right and the price is right, then people will buy it.”

Townsend is now looking ahead to a busy Q4, including partnering with BMG on the new album from Kylie Minogue.

“With a huge artist, we can still take about 30% market share in the week of release,” he said. “For D2C to get that percentage is really strong. For someone like Kylie, a lot of our sales are outside of the UK. Unfortunately, there are not as many retailers now on the High Street, which is another reason for D2C to be such an important thing.”

McKenzie expects more big artists to seize the e-commerce opportunities.

Cardi B set up her own subscription model recently, because she understands that fan engagement is important for her career,” he said. “People will want to pay for that content.” 

To read the full interview with Townsend, subscribers can click here.

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