Thursday, August 14, 2008

Diamond Rings obsolete in the Music Industry


It is evident that long gone are the years of the Diamond album.

A Diamond album is one certified ten times platinum (10 million copies) by the RIAA. There are (by my count) 42 albums released in the 1990's that have achieved this status, as varied as Tom Petty & the Heartbreaker's Greatest Hits, the Titanic Soundtrack, and Kenny G's "Breathless". However, it is interesting to note that the two biggest sellers of the 1990's are both country albums: Garth Brooks' "Double Live" (21 million) and Shania Twain's "Come On Over" (20 million).

By contrast, in this decade, there are only 7 albums so far that have reached Diamond notification. One of these albums is the Beatles' incredibly popular "1" album, a 2002 compilation of all their #1 hits. In this sense, it is a compilation of previously released music that appeals to Beatles fans of all generations, not music that is a product of the changing trends of the new millennium. Also, these albums were all released in 2003 or earlier, with the majority from the year 2000 (Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again", NSYNC's "No Strings Attached", and Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory"). These albums all appeal to a younger pop/rock audience and they were a continuance of the mid-to-late 90's teen pop trend. While Linkin Park was not a boy band or teen pop star, they had undeniable appeal to a similarly aged audience as those other groups (thus I include them in the trend). Rounding out the 7 albums are Shania Twain's "Up" (2002), Outkast's "Speakerboxx/The Love Below" (2003) and Norah Jones's "Come Away With Me" (2002). These three albums really have nothing discernible in common except for the fact that they all produced hit crossover singles.

Now it is 2008 and digital downloads seem to be the way of the future.
Physical album sales have been in decline for years and digital track sales jumped as much as 45 percent from 2006 to 2007 . Britney Spears's new album "Blackout" sold about 880,000 physical copies but the digital downloads off the album amounted to over 3.1 million in sales. Kid Rock interestingly enough, who had a wildly successful album in the late 90's, refuses to sell any of his music on ITunes or other digital music sites. His reasoning is that he wants his fans to experience his album as a whole, not just buy his Top 40 hit song "All Summer Long". His strategy seems to be successful as his album is currently in the Top 10, selling over 90,000 copies in a week where Mariah Carey and Madonna's recent albums only sold about 15,000 combined. Garth Brooks also made a similar statement and refuses to sell his music on Itunes. His recent album Ultimate Hits has sold 5 million copies in less than a year. This may be one of the few recently released album that has a shot at becoming diamond certified.

Yet, this strategy of shunning Itunes and similar websites surely would not be successful to a new artist who does not have an established fan base like Kid Rock or Brooks. New artist Katy Perry would certainly agree with this statement. It is only in the year 2008 that Katy Perry, whose song "I Kissed A Girl" was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for an unprecedented 7 weeks in a row, would NOT have a platinum or even gold album. The single (ostensibly from digital downloads, as singles do not seem to be released physically in the US anymore) has sold 2 million copies however. People seem to be eschewing the album in order to buy the single only.

It makes me wonder how many diamond albums that had a few hit singles but mostly filler tracks would have not gone diamond if released after the year 2003. How many of the 17 million people who bought the Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992 would have simply downloaded "I Will Always Love You" on to their Ipod in 2005?

2 sites I used to help write this entry:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/04/business/media/04music.html
http://www.angelfire.com/music/diamondawards/main.html

1 comment:

JetJust26 said...

This made me realize that the enjoyment of collecting CD's is something not understood by today's generation of music listeners. I love going through old CD's to see what my parents and friends listened to as they grew up, but people of today will not have that luxury in the future, unless of course they want to scroll through an iPod filled with one hit wonders.