How to Save Record Labels

Lessons from a tiny Swedish firm that's raked in $10M

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 4, 2011 8:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – As the music industry navigates a path for the digital era, a tiny Swedish label has proven itself an excellent guide. Though it has just 43 employees, X5 Music Group topped the classical charts last year, its sales on par with Universal, the biggest label there is. Its strategy is a novel one: With no CDs, no contracts with artists, and no new music to offer, it focuses its efforts entirely on the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reports.

X5 licenses classical catalogs from other small firms and combines them into greatest-hits-style albums—very big ones. Albums such as “The 99 Most Essential Chopin Masterpieces” are compiled by crunching the pieces’ sales figures. The company designs album covers that look good as thumbnails, and uses search-friendly titles, often including the word “classical.” X5 albums are sold exclusively through online shops like Amazon, and they frequently go for less than $8. The strategy seems to be working: X5 pulled in $10 million last year, and is set to grow by 50% in 2011. Click for more on the little label that could.

One of X5's hit albums.   (Amazon.com)
JS Bach: Centuries later, still a hitmaker.   (AP Photo, File)
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