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)...it'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 answer.....digital 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 Billboard.com 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:
- The best-selling album of 2000 was No Strings Attached by *NSYNC
- The best-selling album of 2001 was 1 by The Beatles
- The best-selling album of 2002 was The Eminem Show by Eminem
- The best-selling album of 2003 was Get Rich or Die Tryin' by 50 Cent
- The best-selling album of 2004 was Confessions by Usher
- The best-selling album of 2005 was The Emancipation of Mimi by Mariah Carey
- The best-selling album of 2006 was High School Musical Soundtrack
- The best-selling album of 2007 was Noel by Josh Groban
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