The Death of the Diamond Album
“The music industry is in free fall” my pop star brother said to me after the last show of his i saw. And by a collection of measures this appears true.
You have likely heard of gold and platinum records, representing 500K and 1 million albums sold respectively. But not many people have heard of diamond albums, which represent 10 platinum records or 10 million albums sold. And you are not likely to hear much about them, because they are almost extinct.
In it’s endless listing of things, Wikipedia lists the 115 or so diamond albums of all times. It reads a bit like a classic rock who’s who. The Beatles and Led Zepplin and Garth Brooks does quite well. Madonna, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel and the Backstreet Boys all have a couple each. But the partial proof of my brothers claim is that there is only one diamond album in the last decade, it is Adele’s 21 and it is dead last on the list.
But don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about the income of rock stars. Capitalism takes care of it’s own. In an article called “Digital music sales are in free fall, as Spotify does to iTunes what iTunes did to CDs” The article notes:
Good news: The switch from downloading to streaming likely won’t devastate industry revenues like the shift from physical albums to digital downloads did. Despite the accelerating rise of streaming over the past few years, annual US music revenues have held steady at around $7 billion since 2009. That year, traditional purchasing made up 95 percent of total US revenue, compared to only 79 percent last year.
Of course, stopping the bleeding is cold comfort to artists and other industry stakeholders faced with low royalty payments from streaming music services. But while it’s true that the revenue generated from one stream is far lower than the revenue generated by a digital download, that may not matter. Many believe the market for paid music subscriptions is set to explode, particularly on a global scale.
What is really going on here is that services like Spotify and Pandora (and even YouTube) are making it easier to get the music you want by either listening to/viewing ads (which pay artists) or paying the service (which also pay artists) than trying to figure out how to steal it from the labyrinth tubes of the interwebs.
And while it is far from played out which type of service will dominate (with social networking solutions like SoundCloud representing a different type of solution) i tend to agree with the upbeat conclusion of the earlier sited article.
So from this perspective, the death of downloads, despite the fact that their payout is higher per-unit than streaming, may not kill the music industry at all. On the contrary, it may resurrect it for the first time in over a decade.
About paxusa funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.
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