Get Ready For Another Two Years Of Moaning About CD Sales (At Least)

Apr 10th, 2007 // 2 Comments

If it’s Tuesday, it must be sky-is-falling time! From Forbes:

The company predicts that overall music sales by 2009 will be half their level at the peak of the CD boom.

Global music sales are forecast to fall to 23 bln usd in 2009, down 16 pct from last year and far below the peak of 45 bln usd in 1997, according to Enders.

The report blames the industry’s ills on the continuing effects of digital technology, which allows consumers to store large quantities of music on computers, and to cherry-pick tracks, rather than buying albums. Rising broadband penetration has also made legal and illegal music downloading easier.

You know, just once we wish that these reports would get creative as far as reasons behind dropping sales, or at least look outside the technology-will-kill-us box. Because there are so many other factors to look at–the increasingly satiated catalog market, for one. And these pat conclusions reported by Forbes are reminding us of a quote that we happened across a few days ago:

“Record executives no longer wake up in the night worried they are the ones who have turned down the next Michael Jackson. They’ve got a worse nightmare now: They sign up the next MJ and then make no money out of him! For every record they sell, 1,000 are copied to tape by fans at home and 100,000 are produced illicitly in Singapore and Taiwan! His video clips are stolen from satellite services and the world is awash with unauthorized posters and tee-shirts!”

That’s pop scholar Simon Frith in an article on the shift toward making money from “rights exploitation,” and not record sales, that ran in the journal Popular Music And Communication–and it was published in 1992, five years before the peak cited by Enders. So what happened in the interim? Oh, you know–the music industry adapted, even though they had to kick and scream the entire time while doing so.

Music industry faces another two years of declining CD sales – report [Forbes, via Hypebot]

  1. DeeW

    Personally, I don’t think one can compare the two years (1997 and 2007) without taking into account what music was doing at the time. Boy bands and “bubblegum pop” ruled the charts. The major point that should be noted is that, today, there isn’t a single artist that compares in terms of sales. Back then, *NSync and Backstreet Boys sold 10-12 million albums each. Until the music industry comes across a trend as powerful as that, then they might as well forget about topping the sales of those years.

  2. Chris Molanphy

    To look on the bright side (for press coverage, not the industry – they’re fucked): At least now stories like this get the emphasis right. They’re downplaying the “piracy” angle and focus on the “consumers only want singles” angle, which has been unfettered by digital technology. That may not be creative, but it’s exactly right, and it’s what I was wishing reporters would figure out a half-decade ago, after the original Napster shutdown, when the “consumers are all thieves” angle was what they blamed for everything. I’ll take “consumers are thrifty” over that any day.

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