Home Music Music Biz Alarm: All Albums Down 14% 1st Six Months 2014, Streaming...

Hello people over 30. You had record collections, tapes, CDs. Then you downloaded music into your computers or devices. Well, guess what? Kids today don’t want any of that. They’re happy to pay an annual fee and “stream” it all.  They are not buying CD or downloading anything. What the heck am I supposed to do with twenty boxes of 45s and a room full of CDs????

According to Nielsen, during the first six months of 2014, sales of all albums both physical and digital were down 14.9%. And sales just of digital downloads (from iTunes mostly) were down 11.6%.

But dig this: sales of CDs were down 19.6%.

What was up? Streaming jumped 50%. And sales of vinyl LPs were up 40%.

I’d say this is crazy. But how many times have I played music on my computer or phone via Spotify because it was right here, and convenient? A lot. Too much.

And listen, this is felt everywhere.  There are almost no CD players made now. They’re like Gramaphones.  And when I walked into the last little record shop on West 8th St. in Greenwich Village, and asked for Chrissie Hynde’s new album, the clerk asked if I could spell her name. SPELL Chrissie Hynde. Chrissie woulda punched him.

Nielsen: from reading their stats I gleaned a few other things: Katy Perry is the current biggest pop star. Justin Bieber does not exist in the music world.  Country music remains huge. Only physical CD in the top sold more than 400,000 copies– the “Frozen” soundtrack, with 1.7 million.

And vinyl? Among the top 10 was the only legacy act– The Beatles with “Abbey Road.”

The most played record on radio? “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

All of this why Apple is pushing iTunes radio. All these streaming music businesses better get their acts together and start paying artists and writers properly. If streaming is the future, it’s not going to the rape of the people who made the product. Or I’m going to have lots of stories to write for a new generation.


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24 replies to this post
  1. of course. the music industry refused to change to the 21st century,continues to force both through their marketing and the courts a 50’s / 60’s music distribution monopoly and their new customers do not want they are peddling.

  2. So much has changed from the old days. Where to begin? It used to be that recording artists sold whole albums on the strength of a single song. Now listeners can pick and choose, like a line-item veto, and buy the hits and leave the fluff. Part of the problem is that so much (most) of what is being produced today – when you compare it with the music of past decades – is really poor quality. It used to be that you could record songs off the radio for your own personal use and nobody cared; nobody screamed “copyright violation!” That was because the record companies could and did rape the artists and the consumers. I think the excesses of the recording industry – the costly middle men – lead to the consumer rebellion against them just as we were entering the digital age – a perfect storm and it was brewing for a while. I think a solution to the problem will involve fair compensation for the artists and drastically reducing the middle man’s cut, if not eliminating it entirely.

  3. i think the technology has out-distanced the cd and the dvd. people are tired of paying for over priced articles that they can stream. within the next ten years car audio and video will all be streamed from a simple little box. the 60’s was the 8-track then the cassette ( hated both) then cd’s up until the 90’s and streaming started. the future is always changing who knows what we will see in 10 years

  4. It’s a deliberate myth that the music biz is about staying a step ahead of the public. The public wants whatever you promote enough. It’s about staying a step ahead of the creators – keeping the gates, setting the rates.

  5. I think Roger is an idiot, JMHO… What to do with your 45’s? So when’s the last time you actually played one? Lets face it music media has been changing since day-one, and for the better. Record sales are lacking because people download and share, especially the young people. They’re more tech savy then the older bunch that still think 45’s are of some value and store them like gold bars, now if you can only find another old fool that has that same mentality you can unload that crap and start filling a USB drive with thousands of Albums, and put that in your pocket.

  6. Thanks for this. I keep wondering how are writers & artists going to get royalties through streaming music? How? This is why we see these singers doing endorsements and hawking all kinds of stuff because they can’t make royalties.

  7. This is worse for the record labels than the artists. After all typically artists make the majority of their income from live performances.

  8. The Pretenders stopped being famous many years ago, and I bet you most people regardless of age have no idea who Chrissie Hynde is.

    I’m in my 30’s. I still have a huge collection of MP3s (I threw my CDs away years ago, no idea where they are now), but in truth most of the music I listen to is streamed over youtube.

  9. Are you sure it’s because of streaming? Did it ever occur to you that people are buying less music because today’s music is pure garbage?

  10. “All these streaming music businesses better get their acts together and start paying artists and writers properly.” And if they DON’T? Which they won’t. Then what?

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