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Music Biz Alarm: All Albums Down 14% 1st Six Months 2014, Streaming Way Up: Kids Don’t Want to Own the Music

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.