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Gold is the new platinum

At best, in music sales it seems. It use to be that a band had a hit album if it went platinum — shipped 1,000,000 copies. As Billboard points out, that just doesn’t happen much any more. No artist album has sold 1,000,000 units (copies) in 2014 (but see note below).

And the pain for the music industry doesn’t end there:

Overall, digital track sales fell 12.9 percent to 848.5 million in the first nine months of the year ended Sept. 28, 2014, down from 974.6 million in the corresponding period last year, ended Sept. 29, 2013. At the end of 2013, the first year of the digital sales decline, track sales were down 5.7 percent and album sales were down 0.1 percent.

But in the first nine months of this year, digital album sales declined 11.5 percent to 77.6 million from the 87.8 million scans garnered in the first nine months of 2013. Meanwhile, CD sales were down 18.9 percent to 91.7 million from 113.1 million units, which means that overall album sales were down 14.4 percent.


The only good news? Vinyl sales are up 47.5 percent (!) to 6.074 million units while indie stores are holding their own, seeing only a 2.3 percent reduction in sales.

(Note: The RIAA uses a weird definition to certify albums as going platinum, relying on units shipped instead of units sold. Obviously, it’s easier to reach a million units shipped than a million copies actually sold. Either way, the numbers are extremely bleak and a big hit in 2014 isn’t near as big as a hit was in years past.)

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American Airlines announces Miami-Franfurt

ExMiami reports that American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said at a conference yesterday that the airlines would be starting Miami-Frankfurt. No start date was given.

Very, very likely Charlotte impact: Say goodbye to US Airways’ second Charlotte-Franfurt flight, which is summer seasonal. As previously mentioned, US Airways’ notional summer 2015 European schedule includes the flight, but that schedule is also unworkable as it requires more A330s than the airline actually has.

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Hornets using “dynamic pricing”

Back in the day, I worked at the Camelot Music store on Independence Boulevard for a year. And yes, we sold tickets, including Charlotte Hornets tickets. One thing I quickly learned working in the ticket window was that who the Hornets played and what day of the week it was mattered greatly in how interested people were in buying tickets to a particular game. So Rick Bonnell’s article that the Hornets are now (and have been for the past four years) making use of “dynamic pricing” — letting demand determine the determine the price of a specific seat for a specific game — comes as little surprise:

Individual game tickets can vary in price based on opponent, day of the week or, in the case of the opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, the first regular season game in Hornets uniforms.

A top-row seat at Time Warner Cable Arena could typically sell for as little as $16. But that same seat is on sale for about $70 for the season opener and about $82 for a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers featuring superstar LeBron James.

No, what I do find surprising is that it took the team until 2010 to move to having demand for tickets to a particular game influence the price — it’s Econ 101 in action.


Monroe has a new city manager

Again. Wonder what the under/over is on his longevity. 18 months?

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Patrick Cannon gets 44 months

And it might have as well have been 44 minutes or 44 seconds, for for the amount of catharsis it generates. Cannon’s sentencing is an empty act because of the many questions that weren’t answered, beginning with why the FBI targeted Cannon in the first place. Without such information, there can be no closure as we still don’t know the actual scope of Cannon’s corruption. Worse still, there are many local ‘leaders’ in government, industry, and the press who are quite happy to see an end of the matter, and have the true scope of pay-to-play in Charlotte remain hide. Cockroaches don’t like the light and the FBI seems to have brought an awfully small flashlight to the Queen City…

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Changes Won’t Decide Election

JLF head John Hood’s column yesterday is on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court allowing November’s election to proceed under new rules passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly last year. John’s key point:

Although the 2013 law’s photo ID requirement won’t be in effect until 2016, Democrats fear that other changes going into effect this cycle — such as confining early voting to 10 days rather than 17 and requiring Election-Day voters to cast ballots in their assigned precincts rather than casting provisional ballots elsewhere — will depress turnout among Democratic-leaning constituencies. It is also possible that some Republicans hope these changes will reduce turnout among Democrats. Many certainly believe that the changes will deter fraudulent voting. If voter fraud is widespread, then deterring it would clearly result in lower measured turnout.

Based on the best-available empirical evidence, however, neither side is correct. With one exception, none of the changes to North Carolina election laws will likely affect voter turnout to any perceptible degree.

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A judge rules on who should run the airport

And both sides say it favors them. Which, sadly, is typical for this bizarre, pointless issue.

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US Airways draft summer schedule to Europe out

It’s less bad for CLT than feared. The airline’s offerings to Europe in June 2015 from Charlotte Douglas International Airport:

London Heathrow: 2 daily, on an A330-300 and an A330-200
Frankfurt: 2 daily, both on A330-200
Paris: daily on an A330-300
Rome: daily on an A33-300
Madrid: daily on an A330-200
Dublin: daily on an A330-200
Barcelona: daily on an A330-200

Only the two London flights and one of the Frankfurt flights operate year-round or close to it. The rest are summer-seasonals, though the definition of “seasonal” varies by route. Note that Dublin and Madrid get upgraded to an A330-200 in 2015 from a 757 and 767-200ER in 2014 respectively.

Discontinued routes from CLT: Manchester, England (daily 757 in summer 2014), Lisbon (4 weekly 757 in summer 2014), Brussels (4 weekly 767-200ER in summer 2014). The second Frankfurt flight, and Barcelona survive for now.

You’ll note the use of the words “US Airways” and “draft” in the title. There’s a reason for that. This is very much still a US Airways schedule. There’s no cross-fleeting involved as of summer 2015 — US Airways jets and only US Airways jets are flying from US Airways’ hubs in Philadelphia (PHL) and Charlotte to Europe.

Key development: The phase-out of US Airways 767-200ER on flights to Europe. US Airways has operated 10 of these in recent years, but three were retired earlier this year and the remaining seven are apparently done flying long-haul routes (if not retired entirely) by next summer. Of course, to do so, US Airways had to reduce its long-haul flying… which gets us to why this is very much a draft schedule. What US Airways uploaded over the weekend for its summer 2015 flying from PHL and CLT to Europe and Israel requires 16 A330-200 to operate and that’s without any spare aircraft. That’s a bit of a problem as US Airways only has 15 A330-200 with no additional aircraft of the type on order. (The A330-300 fleet is used to its normal degree). So additional changes of some sort are coming — either at least two flights to Europe from CLT or PHL are going to be cut, the US Airways 767-200ERs will continue in service longer, American Airlines jets (likely 767-300ERs) will have to take over some of the PHL or CLT flying, or US Airways is suddenly going to have to acquire a couple extra A330-200s.

So you can think of this schedule as a step along the process, and most definitely not the end state for international flights from CLT. And in any case, additional changes are likely in 2016.

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Buffalo Bills sold for $1.4 billion

which gives the Charlotte Observer an excuse to look at the value of the Carolina Panthers and whether the Panthers might relocate. The best quote appears at the end of the story from John Vrooman, a sports economist at Vanderbilt University:

Even with a smaller stadium renovation, Vrooman said he doesn’t see the Panthers as a credible threat to move. That’s because they aren’t part of a group of lower-tier teams – San Diego, Oakland, Jacksonville and St. Louis – that are more likely to relocate.

“The team will not move now or in the future regardless of ownership, because there are no superior economic alternatives to Charlotte,” he said. “Any gains from an upwardly mobile move to a larger market would be taxed away by the rest of the league in the form of a relocation fee.”

Yup. But whether the powers-that-be in this city believe what should be obvious is a much different question.


Lufthansa to use smaller plane on CLT-Munich next summer

A A330-300, instead of a Airbus A340-600, the same plane the airline typically uses during the winter. The move was widely expected, as Lufthansa is now competing against US Airways instead of working with it.

Note that “smaller” here is a relative term. Lufthansa doesn’t really do small on its transatlantic flights. The smallest aircraft it uses in that role is the Airbus A340-300 and A330-300 — both have the same length fuselage, the difference is the number of engines and range. (The A340-600 is a stretched A340-300.) The largest aircraft US Airways has is the Airbus A330-300.

Lufthansa also has a new denser product out called Jump. It isn’t planning to fly aircraft in the Jump configuration to Charlotte at this time.

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October 2014
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