Global sales in music dropped by $1.5bn in the last year. That's a drop of 8.4%. Sales of CDs dropped by nearly 15%. No wonder labels are thinking about dropping the CD (I believe that niche markets like glam, or classical, will continue to see CDs manufactured, but that pop music will not). Those figures are worldwide.
In the US, overall sales dropped 10%, and CD sales dropped by 20%. If you look at the best selling albums for each decade, you see from the 70s to the 80s to the 90s, that the numbers kept growing.
Now, they are falling. Sebastian Bach released a CD recently, Kicking and Screaming. He announced that as his CD debuted at #67 in the Billboard charts, and the last one debuted at #190, so now he feels he will make more CDs. Sounds good. However, Angel Down sold 6,400 units in it's first week, and Kicking and Screaming sold 6,600.
In contrast, the original Skid Row CD was recently at number 103, having sold 1,762 copies that week. Metallica's self titled CD is still at number 55. Dark Side of the Moon is at number 38. Going back to the 90s, the best selling CD of 1999 was Millenium, but the Backstreet Boys. It sold 9.5 million copies. Assuming it was on sale all year, that's 180 thousand copies a week. The Dixe Chicks, the 10th best selling album of that year, if it was selling all year, sold 67 thousand copies a week. In other words, if they released DURING that year, then they sold more. Amy Winehouse, at number one in the chart I found online for 2011, sold 12,700 copies in that week. There can be no question that music is selling less, a lot less. The question is, why?
I think piracy plays a huge part. I know people who ran a local music store (since closed) and they lost 1/3 of their sales overnight when Napster hit the news. I'd like to think that people like Sebastian Bach still chart because we are more loyal to the artists we love than the typical pop fan. But, I think there's
something else going on. I think kids nowadays don't love music the way we did. I think they have other priorities. I wonder if the bands of today will go on to have long careers, or if the idea of a career in music is simply fading away, all around us. I hope not. But, all the signs are there. There is no question that there's less money being made on music sales, and that's music to support artists who are just getting by, to support stores, to support people working in recording and distribution. There's a lot of jobs disappearing, and the music industry is looking less like an industry all the time.
One thing is for sure, I'm stocking up on CDs before they stop making them. Although, I've wondered if the "no more CDs" story was designed to make me do that, I am certain this is an industry trying everything it can to survive.