2008 Music Sales Less Than Encouraging For Artists

You can apply this graph to a myriad of possibilities in today's economy, but let's stick to music sales for now
​The Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit took place this past Sunday through  Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and the news coming out of everything was music sales in 2008. Specifically, that of 115,000 albums released last year, only 110 sold more than 250,000 copies. This should not come as a surprise, but that number is incredibly dismal -- and it solidifies that artists will have to turn to other avenues to generate any decent revenue.

Music sales have been in steady decline, in my opinion, since the week of March 21, 2000. It was on that Tuesday that 'N Sync's No Strings Attached was released, going on to sell 2.4 million -- million -- copies in it's first week. No album has been able to come near that, and no album never will. Shawn Fanning and Napster came along and revolutionized how we got our music, and even though the file-sharing program was unceremoniously ended by Satan's Bastard -- sorry, Lars Ulrich -- it's imprint lives on today.

2009 holds plenty more new possibilities for artists than 2000 did, but this is because the steady decline of album sales has mandated as much. Those album sales in 2008 are stacked up like this:
  • 110 out of more than 115,000 albums released sold more than 250,000 copies
  • 1,500 albums sold more than 10,000 copies
  • Fewer than 6,000 sold more than 1,000
It's a pretty bleak scenario, but there is positive connotations for all of this. Artists will simply have to look to alternate methods for actually making money off of their music. Live shows, merchandise, licensing songs to commercials, ring tones and so on will become the bulk of a band's income. 

The music business isn't going anywhere, it is simply having to adapt to new technology and rapidly changing times. March 21, 2000 will always go down in infamy, yet we can still have hope for a new, banner day for the music business to come along.

Thanks to Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune for his reporting on the subject and to Dave Allen, and his brilliant music blog Pampelmoose, for pointing this out.

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Album sales, sure - but what about individual songs? The Internet has given us more methods to get music than simply buying an entire album. Most people I know have complained in the past about buying a song for $14 and getting a bunch of uninteresting crap along with it on the CD. I don't hear those complaints any more.

The 'album' is dead. Long live the album.

Digital distribution is the new king and the option to purchase individual songs is the new standard. I, for one, am more than happy to pay a reasonable price for just the songs I want.

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