Digital Album Sales Are Now Slowing Dramatically…

Sales of track downloads are declining for the first time ever in the history of the format. Now, it looks like digital albums are headed towards the same fate.

According to half-year stats shared with Digital Music News by Nielsen Soundscan, digital album sales are up just 6.3 percent on the year, on relatively low volumes.  Which means, the entire concept of digital, bundled albums are unlikely to seriously get off the ground.

Which sort of looks like this, just time-shifted a few years.

But percentages are misleading, right?  Here’s a look at absolute digital album sales, year by year.  As it stands right now, CD album sales are still about 30 percent greater than digital album sales, despite years of double-digit declines.

This is what things typically look like right before the plateau.

51 Responses

    • steveh
      steveh

      Does this mean overall music download sales are up in the first 6 months?
      Obviously yes, because a digital album includes a base average of 10 individual tracks, so if digital album sales are increasing it way more compensates for the decline in individual track sales.
      But still it has to be recognised that there is a steep decline in the rate of growth of digital album sales, and this is highly significant.

      Reply
      • Yves Villeneuve
        Yves Villeneuve

        I understand what you are saying. On the other hand, album download sales growth have been declining since prior to Spotify coming onto the USA scene. The long time downward growth trend could be the result of a persistent poor economy, unregistered music taking a greater market share and a naturally maturing market for downloads.

        Reply
      • Yves Villeneuve
        Yves Villeneuve

        I should also add, the current dovish, not-my-fault-i-stole 6 strikes program could be creating negative sentiment aimed at labels and artists. Hopefully, it’s not long term.

        Reply
        • Casey
          Casey

          I don’t think it is making much of an impact. I have yet to even hear about a single person getting a single strike. Most likely the economy has a lot to do with it, as you menioned in your post above.

          Reply
          • Yves Villeneuve
            Yves Villeneuve

            I was thinking about what you said. Maybe these infringers are angry at being called thieves and the tone of 6 strikes is making it easy to feel that way. Nobody would admit to being a thief unless it was already a public record.
            Some message may be needed to put part of the blame on governments for bowing to ISP greed to give the infringer a sense of “not entirely my fault and yes the biggest victim was the music industry”.

        • Visitor
          Visitor

          “the current dovish, not-my-fault-i-stole 6 strikes program could be creating negative sentiment aimed at labels and artists”
          You mean like the negative sentiment aimed at super markets because of laws against shoplifters?
          When was the last time you saw anybody stop buying milk because of fascistic anti-theft laws?
          If the music industry made any mistake over the past decade, it was to give in to threats, thugs and bullying.

          Reply
    • Stu
      Stu

      When are actual revenue numbers published in the US? Am intensely curious to see the full picture: how much money streaming is bringing in for the industry, versus physical/digital sales.
      Without that, it’s impossible to judge either way what’s going on: in Sweden and Norway overall sales up strongly despite (well, because of) streaming cannibalising sales. Yet just going by Nielsen SoundScan unit data doesn’t say whether US is heading that way or not.
      This isn’t a Spotify apology, just very wary of jumping on ‘downloads are down, woe, woe!’ bandwagon without knowing the respective revenues.

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        That’s the part the anti-streaming people leave out, the fact that as streaming is starting to take over in North Europe, the music industry revenue is growing. And not by a small amount, the amount of revenue music is generating in these countries has almost doubled in a few years. Yet they continue to spread the FUD that streaming is harmful to the music industry. One must wonder, why?

        Reply
        • GGG
          GGG

          Well, to defend that side for once haha, there is something to be said about total revenue vs artist rev. For instance, if Spotify’s earnings count as music industry, the could make a billion dollars and pay out a million. Industry through the roof, but being horded by a small group. Obviously those numbers are absurd, but its the principle.
          Having said that, still don’t have any conclusive proof streaming eats substantial sales.

          Reply
    • GGG
      GGG

      Don’t you anti-Spotify Believers point to poor streaming numbers and miniscule growth in users all the time to show it’d dying?
      So…nobody’s streaming yet streaming is killing sales…?

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        “So…nobody’s streaming yet streaming is killing sales…?”
        Ladies & Gents, let me introduce to you:
        The Architechture of the Exploding Spotify Bubble!
        See, the number of Spotify users will go through the roof over the next 2-3 years.
        Up, up, up goes the bubble!
        In the meantime, the Piracy Industry goes down, down, down; blocked, banned and choked into oblivion, dying from a long list of fatal diseases. And guess what? Nobody cares because consumers can stream all they want for free.
        A growing number of artists quietly remove their work from Spotify as they see their titles disappear from torrent sites. The race to the bottom is over, why give your music away for peanutz?
        Consumers begin to notice that something seems to be wrong with the bubble. Where are the new realeases? And why are the old songs replaced by cover versions?
        DigitalMusicNews 🙂 begin to report substantial iTunes and Amazon sales for Spotify pullouts.
        That’s the turning point. Artists ditch Spotify faster than they ditched MySpace.
        And pop goes the …

        Reply
        • GGG
          GGG

          Ok, so complain about cannibalization in 2-3 years, not now when there’s no substantial evidence it’s happening. (And for the record, this is not be denying it per se, it’s just saying there’s been no data. I’d LOVE Thom to give us Eraser/Atoms data in a couple months to see if anything actually happened.)
          In the meantime, you can’t say streaming is failing because there’s not enough people and the numbers are too low and then the next sentence complain that sales are down because there’s too much streaming going on.

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “not now when there’s no substantial evidence it’s happening”
            Norway & Sweden ain’t substantial enough? 🙂
            You, Sir, are hard to please…

          • GGG
            GGG

            Yea, you mean the countries where like 90% of people pirated music, which has dropped dramatically since Spotify launched, and the place where Paul even has an article saying music SALES have gone up, despite streaming booming?
            Yea, terrible. Killing the music industry over there.

    • Visitor
      Visitor

      I’m a Spotify believer in the sense that I think streaming will be the dominant way people interact with music in the future. So this is not exactly contrary.

      Reply
  1. Casey
    Casey

    If album sales are down, why not actually put albums on sale? Why not run a summer sale like Steam does for PC games? Times are changing and it is time to get innovative. If people are not buying, do something to get them to buy.

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “If people are not buying, do something to get them to buy”
      Yes, let’s kill the Piracy Industry.
      Streaming will sink like a stone, consumers will pay whatever you charge.
      Done.

      Reply
      • Casey
        Casey

        Just because they can’t stream or steal it, doesn’t mean they will buy it. They still have to be convinced they should by it. Putting music on sale could move unprecedented volume.

        Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          You are right.
          Remember the Allofmp3 model?
          If that model was copied and legalized 10 years ago streaming would never have taken off. We would all be buying our music now.

          Reply
        • Visitor
          Visitor

          “Just because they can’t stream or steal it, doesn’t mean they will buy it”
          On the contrary, that’s exactly what it means!
          History shows that consumers not only will buy great new songs — they will pay whatever you charge!
          $1? Sure!
          $1K? Right on!
          $1M? No problem!
          Provided, of course, they can’t steal it without consequences.
          Music is the closest you come to sex. That’s why people will do anything to get it.

          Reply
          • smg77
            smg77

            Posting something in a comment section of a website doesn’t make it a fact. Repeating the same thing over and over again also doesn’t make it a fact.

          • GGG
            GGG

            You are getting as ridiculous as Yves, and that’s saying a lot.
            I NEVER spent more than $20 for a CD even when it was literally the ONLY way I could get the music. I ended up not having it. Eventually everyone started feeling the same way. Piracy didn’t JUST happen because “hey look, free music!” It eventually got to that point, but the fundamental reason behind it was/is that people want to consume way more music than they could/can afford. Entitled? Sure. But there’s no reason you should overprice music for your stupid ego. People on here think so highly of themselves and their “art” its stupid. I don’t value an album less than some rich guy because he bought your $1000 version and I bought your 9.99 version.
            But yes, people will buy stuff if they really want it. Like how last year’s top singles sold more than pre-spotify top singles. Or that the avg hit sales are pretty much on par. So what’s streaming eating again?

          • A-J Charron
            A-J Charron

            Piracy came along for 2 reasons:
            1-Labels were charging too much. Don’t know how old you are, but if you were too young, vinyls sold at $9.99 and CDs came out at $19.99 with a promise that prices would go down as they sold more. Prices never went down and people knew they were overpaying.

            2-Illegal download was easy and fun, and although everybody talked about it, there were no consequences.
            What gives you the right to decide how much my art is worth? Will you go to Toyota and tell them you’re taking a Camry for $5,000 because you think it isn’t worth more?
            And here’s another little bit: when artists can’t make a living off there art, they stop distributing it. Then you’re stuck with Lady Gaga and Celine Dion. Wonder why there hasn’t been a revolution in music since the 80’s???

          • GGG
            GGG

            I mean, first off, your two reasons of why piracy happened are pretty much exactly what I said so not sure if that was trying to argue with me or what.
            Secondly, you can make your art worth whatever the hell you want. Just be sane enough to understand that not everyone else is going to think it’s worth that, or anything for that matter. This is not an argument justifying piracy, it’s simply pointing out a fundamental flaw I see alllllll the time, where every single person thinks they’re some misunderstood, undiscovered art genius. Like you even said/agreed with me about, labels were charging too much. There, you just argued valuation, as well.
            Third, it’s easier and cheaper (free in some cases) to make, record, and distribute music than ever before. People love creating, they will do it regardless. They did it before making money off of it was even a thing. Are there problems? Certainly! I’m not denying it’s hard to make a living being an artist. But I also think “making a living” to many people is skewed by delusions of grandeur. We’re stuck with Lady GaGa because the mainstream music business is a branding business now, not a music one anymore. There is an immense amount of fantastic music out there becuase people can’t stop making it, you just have to find the good stuff because everyone and their mother is also making music.

          • Yves Villeneuve
            Yves Villeneuve

            The markets will decide who survives and dies. Not some whiney unimportant critic with a minority view anyways. Haha

          • GGG
            GGG

            You are absolutely correct. Like the market has spoken for how many years now that your “art” is hilariously shitty and has no value whatsoever. I refused to even buy a .99 cent song from you because it has such little value. Haha

          • Yves Villeneuve
            Yves Villeneuve

            It’s easier to sell a small catalog all at once to an individual, therefore holding back on new additions until thresholds are met. Respectfully, if the formula isn’t broke, why change it to appease a critic?
            Why did I add a sophomore album? Because I wanted to show/confirm my formula and limit anxieties related to anticipation of new releases.

          • GGG
            GGG

            Yes, I’m sure people were clamoring for more Yves “music.”
            You really need to use the next batch of money you were going to spend on Facebook getting people in Kuala Lumpur to like your page on some therapy instead. You are seriously delusional. It’s legitimately scary now that you’ve told us you actually think Spotify, Facebook and iTunes conspire against you. You need help.

          • Yves Villeneuve
            Yves Villeneuve

            It is in your power and everyone else’s too to seek the evidence needed to factually discredit my claims, without spending a penny.

          • GGG
            GGG

            I see you didn’t deny the other two….
            Face it, your music is shit. There is no conspiracy against you and your music. People don’t avoid commenting on your statuses because it says the word secret in it. Nobody is avoiding pirating your music because of a song about child abuse. Nobody cares about it because it’s shit. Realize that, spend time practicing and writing more, and release better music that people actually enjoy. That is how you become a working musician. Nobody is out to get you. You just suck.

          • Yves Villeneuve
            Yves Villeneuve

            Didn’t click on the YouTube link.
            Google/YouTube is not exactly a friend of Apple/iTunes.
            Last I checked, my name did not auto-complete in a YouTube search, but once did. It auto-completes in a Google search after I publicly complained.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            You really believe that anyone will stop using YouTube and Google because they don’t auto-complete your name? You can’t seriously expect that they can make their search engines auto-complete the name of anyone with a 4 year old video, which has been watched 288 times..

  2. Yves Villeneuve
    Yves Villeneuve

    Just went to my YouTube video and noticed the video screen was altered which removes the disclaimer that the audio to make this video is a 32 Kbps mono MP3. You need to go to full screen mode to view it all. Any indication I added a video bio has been removed. You need to click the arrow-down to actually see it.
    This is what appears on my iPad but the original video screen and bio may be fine on a desktop PC though too lazy to check.

    Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      You are correct and even this guy, Richard Zedalius, has around 250 times more views on YouTube, than you.

      Reply
      • Yves Villeneuve
        Yves Villeneuve

        Whatever. Keep running from a simple challenge if that’s your thing. My guess is you secretly tried but obviously failed. As far as I am concerned, you are simply trolling for an immature response.

        Reply

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