Bad Albums or Cheap Consumers?

Is the music industry a case of the chicken or the egg? In other words - does the poor quality of music these days cause consumers to only purchase a song or two off the album from Itunes? Or is it the consumers who have contributed to the low sales of albums by only buying a few songs instead of a full album?

So which came first: bad albums or cheap consumers?

Interestingly, the cost of a CD seems to be at an all time low. (In my not so scientific opinion, based on purchasing CDs since 1995, at the ripe age of 9)'s easy to find certain albums for $8 or $9. Yes, even new releases. I don't think I've paid more than $11 for a new release in the past few years...usually more like $9.99. It wasn't so long ago that I was willing to pay $15 or even - god forbid - $18 for an album by one of my favorite artists. Now I shop around on Amazon, WalMart, and Circuit City (by far the 3 cheapest places to buy a CD - FYE is a joke with ridiculous "sales", like $5 off an item everyone else has for $20 less...Best Buy, on the other hand, is tolerable).

I'm not sure I have an sales are the way of the future I guess. And established artists like The Eagles are still doing very well for themselves. How did "Long Road out of Eden" go on to sell 7 million copies in the past year, in a year when album sales are down by 25% (even used the word "whopping" in reference to this percentage)? Probably because fans of The Eagles tend to be older (although they do have fans of all ages I am sure) and older fans are more likely to want a physical copy rather than digital downloads. What 60 year old do you know with an Ipod?

How was the "High School Musical" soundtrack with 3.6 million copies sold the best selling album of 2006? Interestingly - that album was the first at the time to be a best selling album of the year with less than 4 million copies. Again, it comes back to the fans - who is buying the album? Parents for their kids and probably kids themselves (and 22 year old teenyboppers like me - actually I downloaded it. Whoops....). Parents and younger kids are not likely to download the music off websites or go to Itunes to buy the songs.

From Wikipedia, here are some interesting facts:
Josh Groban?? Who bought that album? Apparently 4 million people in 11 weeks. I never even knew he released a Christmas album, but I think the Oprah viewers went out to buy it in droves after watching the "Oprah's Favorite Things" episode he performed on. Never underestimate the power of Oprah. I don't.

So in closing, I will leave you with part of the lyrics to Bon Jovi's song "Last Man Standing":

His songs were more than music
They were pictures from the soul
So keep your pseudo-punk, hip-hop, pop-rock junk
And your digital downloads


Anonymous said…
It is important to also note that what is called "music" today is not music. Today it is more about what you see and what types of videos you make. Those artists that had #1 CD's in the years don't play instruments and some of them don't write music. Of course this excludes The Beatles One album, which is a compilation of older songs. These artists rely on making cool videos or looking hot, making it not really about the music at all. People like The Eagles aren't the most attractive people, but they sure know how to write CD's with more than just 1 standout song. It's a shame that the so called teeny boppers can't appreciate real music these days.