In case you’re just tuning in, the music industry has seen year after year of declining sales, due to many factors starting with their own greed and unwillingness to embrace the digital age and shift away from over-priced and under-delivering albums. They have always pointed to piracy as the sole reason, and while it most assuredly IS a huge factor, I believe that their constant and complete unwillingness to look within to seek the source of their problems has been central to the issue. Oh, and streaming music satisfies most pop fans according to the numbers.
So now we have the Official 2010 numbers … how did it go? Not so great, as reported at:
Albums, Overall*: 326.2 million units; Down 12.7%
Albums, Physical**: 240 million; Down 19%.
Albums, Digital: 86.3 million; Up 13%
Digital Track Sales: 1.172 billion, Up 1%
LP/Vinyl Sales: 2.8 million, Up 14%
So we have seen another year of double-digit sales declines overall, with a nearly 20% drop in physical album sales! This is even worse than last year, where total album sales were down 8.5%, physical sales down 12% and digital sales up 16%.
Digital album sales increased by ~10.5 million from 2008 – 2009, and by ~10 million from 2009 – 2010. The rising denominator results in a smaller percent.
Here is some more context about how digital figures into overall sales:
Digital formats accounted for 46% of all music purchases in 2010; up from 40% in 2009 and 32% in 2008.
Digital album sales accounted for 26% of all album purchases in 2010; up from 20% in 2009, 15% in 2008, 10% in 2007 and 5.5% in 2006.
In 2009 overall sales rose by ~2% from 2008, but this was largely carried by the massive 8% in digital track sales. In 2010 track sales only rose by 1%, and combined with the decline in album sales led to an overall 2.4% drop in sales.
As for the top sellers?
- Best selling album was Eminem’s Recovery which sold 3.42 million copies.
- Best selling song was Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ which sold 4.4 million copies.
Some more data from Billboard:
On a positive note, five tracks topped 4 million units in 2010 (versus four songs in 2009), while another seven songs scanned more than 3 million each, versus three in the previous year. However, 2010 only produced 86 songs overall that each scanned 1 million units or better, three less than the 89 that accomplished that feat in the prior year.
This indicates that the year was rather top-heavy, which should make labels somewhat happy – it shows that by pumping money into ‘product’ like Katy Perry they can ‘buy’ results. However, California Gurls would have ended up 3rd in 2009.
And while Eminem had the top selling album, Taylor Swift’s combined sales from her new and existing releases pushed her to 4.4 million total sales, whereas Eminem had 4.3 million.
In bad news for non-mainstream music, all of the New Age, Latin, Jazz, Classical and Alternative genres saw 20% or more declines in sales … with the total of all New Age sales ringing in at 1.6 million, less than half of what Eminem’s Recovery sold.
Of course, my instinct tells me that many artists outside of the pop realm (yes, Eminem is assuredly pop music in my eyes) have taken to non-traditional ways of selling records as I have noted in articles about the Jason Parker Quartet amongst others.
Regardless, 2010 was a pretty dismal year for music sales. Streaming music has had a huge impact that just keeps growing, as more folks find that they can get their fix of Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift easily enough by hitting up Slacker or Pandora instead of coughing up $1.29 for a track on iTunes or Amazon.com.
Personally, since I have a penchant for listening to music my younger son simply calls ‘oh no, not this stuff again!’, I usually have to buy, and I bought more in 2010 than I have in several years … but apparently not enough to make up for the rest of the country. What are your thoughts on the music industry?