Learning to Die... Music Sales Spiral Downward

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Thursday, Feb 24, 2011
A quick bit of the steady decline of music sales.

The music industry is dying. Heard that one lately? You can debate that endlessly, but one thing is certain: the record industry of the last 100 years is coming apart at the seams. Vinyl sales have been steadily escalating (great news!), but those sales combined with all other current mediums (CDs, digital downloads, and yes, cassette tapes) are not making up the ground of the bloated profits once enjoyed in the 1990s. The folks over at Business Insider released two fairly convincing graphs to document this startling decline. The first graph shows that overall sales are down 45% from their peak. However, after they published this one reader noticed that something was missing: inflation. The second graph represents something closer to reality, when adjusted for inflation. Once that is factored in, things are a lot worse than assumed. Since their peak in the late ‘90s, record sales are down a whopping 64%, further bolstering the reality that musicians today have to look elsewhere for sustainable revenue streams. Consider it this way: Eminem topped last year’s sales with 3.4 million. Rewind to 2000. The number one album that year, ‘N Sync’s “No Strings Attached” sold 9.9 million. The biggest question facing the music industry in 2011 is how to actively build new business models that can counter the steady decline of recorded music purchases.


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