Tomorrow, when the “record” sales are counted for the week, there will be an even bigger surprise than last week.
Twenty of the top fifty recordings will have sold fewer than 1,000 CDs or downloads. Those twenty will have almost all their sales in streaming.
Several will have hard sales under 500, or even 100. For example: of today, with 72% of sales counted for the week, Benny Blanco has sold only 57 downloads (he doesn’t have CDs). But he’s streamed enough of his “Friends Keep Secrets” album that almost 10,000 have been tallied up.
Similar numbers can be attributed to Post Malone, Lil Vert, and a handful of hip hop artists. Actually manufacturing a CD today is like making a girdle.
A story in the New York Times last week pointed out that the number 1 album, by A Boogie wit Da Hoodie, had sold around 800 downloads vs. over 50,000 via streaming. This week, Boogie is on track for even fewer sales.
And yet, while CDs and downloading are kaput, LPs– vinyl records– are up. Business is booming for The Beatles, who sold the most records last year according to Buzz Angle. Between “The White Album” 50th anniversary and “Abbey Road,” Beatles business is booming.
Older adult artists are also selling CDs and LPs, and downloads. The difference seems to be that in hip hop there’s no need to own a physical product. Having it to play at will, on Spotify and other platforms, is more important. Once it’s run its course, it’s over.