Crashing Music Sales

Theft of intellectual property has gotten completely out of control in the music business. This story in the WSJ has an amazing chart showing that album sales have gone down from around 800 million in 2000 to somewhat over 400 million in 2008. I don't know whether there is some bias here breaking these down in terms of albums and not individual songs. The drop since 2000 has been almost continuous. It is hard to believe that illegal downloading isn't responsible for at least a good share of this drop.



Blogger Bitter Old Man said...

iTunes alone sells more than two billion songs a year right now, which should account for a very large portion of that downturn. Also, hundreds of millions of music videos are sold on iTunes each year as well and this could replace some album sales.

Considering that many people buy a twelve song album just to hear three songs (or even one), a shift to internet retailers on this scale could more than explain a 400 million drop in album sales over several years.

If 50% of all iTunes buyers bought three songs instead of a twelve song albums you would see a one year decline in albums sales of about 255 million.

1/04/2009 6:02 PM  
Blogger Jim W said...

Album sales were up until recently and previously climbed with increasing use of P2P. Have you considered the possibility that music sales suffer in bad economic times?

1/05/2009 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The RIAA is struggling desperately to survive. Meanwhile, down on the ranch, their market it telling them that the product is worth only stealing.

1/05/2009 5:35 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I buy music at perhaps 1/5 the rate I did a decade ago, for one simple reason: current radio sucks and I can't hear any new music on any of the local stations. If I don't hear these 'teaser trailers' of songs, I'm not buying anything.

Yes, there are sources like internet radio, Pandora, etc., but most of my listening is in the car. Ah well, cutting out music buys is an easy way to save money. But I miss it so much!

1/05/2009 7:41 AM  
Blogger Lazy Bike Commuter said...

I don't think there's much difference in total music sold.

Online downloading from itunes accounts for hundreds of millions a year, and I don't have any idea how they record things from subscription services ($15/month for unlimited downloads).

It sounds to me that they are trying to make excuses for a changing market (as they have been doing for the past 10 years).

1/05/2009 11:50 AM  

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