It’s Official: Paid Downloads Are Down 2.3 Percent In the US…

This is officially the year that downloads stopped accelerating, and potentially, gave way to conditional ownership and streaming models. According to half-year stats shared by Nielsen Soundscan with Digital Music News this weekend, paid downloads are slumping 2.3 percent at the half-point, meaning the period from January 1st through June 30th.

In total, Nielsen tallied 682.2 million paid downloads by June 30th, down from 698 million at the same point last year.  The sales are almost entirely from the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3, both of whom remain on the streaming sidelines.  Nielsen remains the only company tracking aggregated paid downloads in the US.

The statistic confirms information from a source last month, who pointed Digital Music News to a half-year downtrend of ‘nearly 3 percent,’ while arguing that anything closer to 2 percent erred on the side of fiction.  Earlier, in March, the first warning signs of a decline appeared.

Now, the trend is now clear: downloads are down for consecutive reporting periods, the first time that has ever occurred in the history of the format.

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88 Responses

    • Visitor

      Tell me again… “Streaming Is The Future”…

      • Visitor

        iTunes is not only the future — it’s going to be bigger than you can possibly imagine.

        Scroll down, and you’ll agree…

  1. Lynn S

    This also may be caused by the rise of Android and handsets like Samsung. It’s costly to switch music between the two operating systems. Some people may just throw up their hands and use some kind of radio or streaming which is platform neutral.

    • jw

      iTunes will always have its users, but platform neutral is the future. Switching between devices, device platforms, the mainstrem adoption of higher bitrate formats, etc are all going to be huge drivers towards platform neutral streaming systems like Spotify.

      • tune Hunter

        You must be Spotify employee!

        Spotify and all other streamers have no future and are a result of desperation inside of labels.

        If they ever get 300 million paid subscribers they will shrink the total maximum size of the industry to 25 billion.

        300MM x$5 = 18billion/year + almost impossible 7billions from all other sources = $25 billions

        Sirrus / XM with 24million subscribers after 13 years proves that this is a DEAD END ROAD!

        XM has most influential, new car buyer customer base and Spotify and friends 13 to 33 cashless crowd!

        The only conclussion: streaming is a cancer killing the goodwill of the industry.

        In the meantime the industry can deliver effortlessly 100 billions in revenues by 2020 if we switch to mandatory “Discovery Moment Monetization”

        • jw

          Tune Hunter – Explain to me the math behind more people spending more money on music means less money for the music industry.

          Paul – Your comment system sucks. Half of the time when post a comment from a mobile phone it just reposts the article. Also not supporting browser spell check is another function you have to go in & break. Hope your new site launches soon.

          • Visitor

            Yes, more money for streaming but only .3% more in 2012 all together. This is streaming income is cannibalizing other income!
            Most important why should we give full access to our property for $5 a month?
            Under “Discovery Moment Monetization” person will spend that on one road trip or one night at the club.

            Last, if you would be a farmer able to sale your fruits for $1.5 a pound would you sale it for 50 cents at the bazaar?
            Streaming in current set up with free discovery tools included is a bazaar proposition.
            It is an act of desperation and ignorance by the labels!
            …and yes Paul needs a spell checker, it is stressful for non English guy like me.
            You must forgive me Borat style posts!
            In any case we can help to save the industry and modified streaming can be part of it.

          • jw

            It’s going to take a whole lot more than spellcheck to make your posts make sense.

            The whole point of Spotify is that it monetizes everything you listen to. If I listen to Bruce Springsteen all day, Bruce Springsteen makes money. Going forward, the music industry will not survive on discovery alone, revenue will acrue according to sustained popularity. This can only be achieved by offering unfettered access.

            You can’t charge people $5/mo or $10/mo to listen to old stuff, but then another $.30 or $.50 per new track. That’s absurd. Essentially, you’re charging for the USE of Shazaam. Which is a failing proposition. Anecdotally, I’ve only gotten Shazaam to actually work once or twice. Most of the time it gives me the wrong artist.

            Let’s assume that mobile access is attractive to Spotify users & say that half of subscribers are on the $5/mo plan & half are on the $10/mo plan. That nets out to $7.50/mo per subscriber. That’s $90/yr, twice what the average iTunes music downloader user spends on music. If the industry relied on Shazaam discovery alone, a user would have to discover 300 songs per year at $.30 per song. Lol.

          • Tune Hunter

            You are not at $7.5 AVG. Most are at “zero” plan or half plan than you have Sony at $3.43 full service.
            $5 if not $4 is a proper long term number. In Russia or China $3 might be to much and you got to go global to save the industry.

            Again and again having all music ID guys for free to anyone, including streaming user is like operating a supermarket where Shazam and the friends remove the goods to the parking lot and neighborhood streets 24/7.

            You can not and you will not monetize music in this environment – prostitution has more logic – both the pimp and prostitute usually get money. Shazam and musicians in most cases do not.

          • Sequenz_

            We could also use a “Like” and “Dislike” option on comments. That’d be very helpful in seeing what the majority of the DMN surfers think.

    • Corey Tate -

      Right on, Lynn S! I never though of it that way before, but I think you have something with the idea that Google, Apple, and every other player in music tech has always tried to drive people to their own platform, while few have been platform-neutral.

    • Visitor

      Their heads will explode once Apple announces their streaming service.

    • Visitor

      Seems like people are ditching iTunes instead of streaming

      • Visitor

        “Seems like people are ditching iTunes instead of streaming”

        Here’s how it works:

        Artist will ditch streaming!

        Consumers certainly won’t — at first.

        Now, you have to look at the entire picture at once because its parts are going to interact:

        1) Streaming will grow like never before over the next 3 years. We’re talking 200-500%, or more.

        2) In the meantime, mainstream piracy will die because of the unprecedented measures that are being introduced all over the world as we speak. It’ll happen almost unnoticed because consumers can stream what they want for free.

        3) A growing number of artists will quietly remove their work from the streaming services as they see their titles disappear from lockers and torrent sites. This number will slowly increase over the next 2-3 years to reach a critical mass and explode when the commercial Piracy Industry is choked to death.

        4) Meanwhile, consumers slowly start to notice the Spotify holdouts and pullouts. It won’t have any consequences at first as consumers just return to the torrent sites. But the illegal supply is rapidly diminishing, and in some cases it becomes impossible to find the new songs.

        5) Enter iTunes. Music sites begin to report substantial iTunes and Amazon sales for Spotify pullouts. This is the turning point. Artists ditch Spotify faster than they ditched MySpace.

        • PiratesWinLOL

          1) Agreed

          2) The few things that you have listed is nothing really new or something that remotely threat anyones ability to download anything, with no personal risk at all. What do you want to do about the very anonymous ways to share such as Freenet, TOR or I2P? Fact is that you can’t do anything about it. Filesharing has developed a lot since the days of Napster, and I can assure you that you haven’t seen the end of that yet.

          3) No, what will happend is that the last few major holdouts will give up. You can’t say no to something of that size. Really, the only thing that is worse than getting exploited, is not to get exploited at all. Just ask Yves.

          4) Again, exactly how do you want to stop people from sharing files through anonymous networks like the above mentioned? Or they could just go listen to them on GrooveShark or YouTube… Or get them through USENET, normal P2P through a VPN, or even IRC. All of the above solutions is more attractive than Itunes.

          5) Itunes will close down their MP3 store and focus entirely on their streaming service.

          • Visitor

            Sorry, tried to read your post but couldn’t get past that silly name…

          • PiratesWinLOL

            Well, I guess it is for the best anyway 🙂 Your deluded ideas about the destruction of internet piracy would just be shattered and you might sink into a state of depression. There would be too many question that you wouldn’t be able to answer.

        • R.P.

          I agree with you that streaming will grow. I also agree with you that streaming might put an end to a good portion of piracy. It is just way too much work to have to search for something and then download it when you can simply just stream it. Most consumers are a bit lazy so streaming is super convenient and convenience wins always.

          But, I don’t think that the holdouts will change anything. They will lose. It is like the equivalent of an artist not putting out music for 2-3 years and then coming back to find out that consumers have replaced him/her with 4 or 5 other artists of similar sound. There are just way too many artists out there.

          Just an opinion from someone who has seen this exact cycle happen before, in different form of course.

          Hopefully I am wrong 🙂

  2. Wampus

    Downloading was never a viable format long-term. It was a “bridge” technology between physical formats and streaming. And now we’re exactly where we would have been in the past if the technology had supported it: paid, multi-device access to vast libraries. “The Heavenly Jukebox.” It’s a foregone conclusion.

    The issue going forward is compensation metrics. If the market is moving to streaming — and it is — then it’s all about how the pie is divvied up, what artists can wrangle at the table. As usual.

    • Visitor

      “Downloading was never a viable format long-term. It was a “bridge” technology between physical formats and streaming.”

      No no, you got it upside down.

      See my post above if you wish to understand the entire picture and how its different parts interacts.

      Streaming is the — short — bridge between CDs and iTunes.

      • Wampus

        No. As someone said above, Spotify monetizes everything. That is the goal. The only issue is the *rate* at which everything is monetized — and consequently the rate at which artists are compensated.

        • Visitor

          “That is the goal.”


          Spotify does not have one, but two goals:

          1) Destroy music sales. Spotify admitted this in the infamous UK ad:

          “You’ll never have to buy music again!”

          2) Make Mr. Ek as rich as Tim Westergren.

          Now, nobody can blame Spotify for the latter. Personal wealth at the expense of musicians may not sound nice to you, but it’s a legitimate goal and it’s the motivation behind any streaming enterprise.

          Goal #1 is the problem, and history will show that this is where Spotify lost it. Because any musician knows what it means:

          Destroy music sales, and you destroy music production.

          And this is where the war between Spotify and musicians begins…

  3. Casey

    Quite honestly, there is not much music that I want to buy getting released right now. Probably won’t be much until next year. Perhaps others feel the same way.

  4. $1 billion USD

    Spotify needs to pay $1 billion USD in annual royalties to be taken seriously.

    Right now, it is paying about $600 million a year in royalties. Not worth the hassle.

    • Tune Hunter

      They claim they are the future of the industry!

      If so, Spotify and friends have to deliver at least 36 billion dollars. Only then with 5 billion extra dollars from other souces we will recover back to 1999 income.

      36 billions means that they have to sign up 600 million folks at $5 a month.

      We are observing industrial activity managed by folks under the infuence with double or triple vission!

  5. Yves Villeneuve

    These stats don’t mean anything in the context of high unemployment and lack of sales reporting of unregistered music of indie and unsigned musicians.

    Employment rates are cyclical, meaning there are ups and downs and the download market likely to closely follow this trend as it fully matures.

    My music is not registered with Neilson Sounscan and I am sure there are countless others in a similar situation. There is a possibility unregistered(underground) music is gaining market share from registered music. Maybe Paul can get data from Tunecore and CD Baby and compare since many of their releases are unregistered (they would likely have that information too).

    • jw

      Employment in the US is significantly higher than it was a year ago, Yves. It’s been growing by hundreds of thousands of jobs per month. This graph does not correspond with emplyment. And those numbers aren’t hard to find. lol

      But maybe this is all because we haven’t added your sales. Could you provide us with your U.S. sales & we’ll adjust the chart to reflect them? I’m sure it will flatten it out.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Unemployment is persistently high in the USA. The longer someone is unemployed, the greater is the reduction in household expenditures.

        Similarly, the longer someone is employed, the greater is the increase in household expenditures.

        As for your last paragraph, if you want instead of dodging a balanced report, you can ask Paul to seek the data I request that will either confirm or reject the premise of this article.

        The anonymous source is definitely pushing for streaming. Maybe it’s true that -2.3% is fiction, and it’s more like +2.3%.

        • jw

          So if employment is rising, so should household expenditures on music. Right?

          And yet… it’s not.


          Maybe if you close your eyes & cover your ears the -2.3% WILL turn into +2.3%! Maybe it will turn into +a billion percent!

          • jw

            More specificically, household expenditures on *downloaded* music.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            As I said, the longer we are employed, the greater our household expenses become. Persistent unemployment is having a greater effect on music sales than recent new employment, period.

            I’d like to know what are the changes in CD and subscription sales in comparable periods. Definitely, there are executives trying to control the message by not releasing this data to the media.

          • jw

            So you’re saying this is a delayed reaction to a recession that ended 3 years ago?

    • Yves Villeneuve

      To clarify, the download market had not matured during the employment period in question. Rather, the download market was in a growth phase and would not be affected much by a short period of unemployment.

      Persistent unemployment would have greater ability to run over anything in its path.

  6. GGG

    Hell froze over again because I think I’m agreeing with you.

    While Tunecore, CD Baby and Bandcamp do allow you to get what you need to have your sales registered, I doubt they count them all. Not to mention physical CDs from small bands that definitely aren’t counted. There’s probably millions of records sold by thousands of bands who sell like 150 copies that aren’t tallied.

    • jw

      That doesn’t change the trend. Those sales weren’t counted a year ago & shouldn’t be counted now if the intent is to compare year-over-year.

      Sure, the total figures are going to be short of reality, but if unreported sales held steady or even grew over the last year, that’s not going to have a significant effect on that 2.3% figure, which is the point.

      Then again, there’s nothing suggesting those unreported sales would’ve grown in the last 12 months.

      • GGG

        Yea, you’re right. I realized that like 10 minutes after I posted…haha.

  7. Yves Villeneuve

    I think some need to realize that the unlimited music access model is generally for music nerds.

    Nothing against nerds, who tend to be socially inept, but they always represent a minority of the population, regardless of subject.

    • jw

      Spotify is for anyone who spends the time & effort to download music illegally.

      And that’s a lot of folks.

      Also, I don’t find most music nerds to be socially inept. I think that’s a pretty offensive comment.

    • GGG


      Yves, calling people socially inept nerds…hahahaahah

      Dude, look at your “promo” shot. You’re a 40 year old sitting in what appears to be your bedroom that hasn’t changed since you were 12.

      • jw

        Oh man, that’s hilarious! I hadn’t actually looked for Yves’ website.

        Everything makes perfect sense now. Lmao.

        • Visitor

          I would pay money to watch Yves dance like this:

      • Yves Villeneuve

        To be honest, though not offended by your comment, the photo was shot in someone else’s home on Christmas Day 2007.

        It’s my honest promo photo, meaning it was mostly a surprise shot.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        The music nerds, likely socially inept too, seem to be more aggressive today.

        • jw

          Listen, Yves. Based on your website, I’m not sure you’ve got the self-awareness to be calling us & our ilk socially inept.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            To be honest, I think you are much more socially inept than GGG.

  8. steveh

    As I’ve said before these are only partial fugures in as much as they are for unbundled single digital track downloads. They exclude figures for digital full album downloads.

    Until we get a figure for digital full album downloads we can’t say for sure that digital music purchase for ownership is starting to decline.

    For our label at least more people are buying full digital albums compared to single tracks – which is a healthy development.

    If you don’t believe me when I say the figure in this post is just for single track downloads, please peruse the full 12 month Nielsen figures for the year 2012. You can do the math…

    • Yves Villeneuve

      Hey Steve, You appear to be correct. These figures don’t reflect digital album sales, only singles. Digital download albums or digital dwnload music as whole could actually be increasing.

      The music nerds are celebrating without justification. Executives are controlling the message to reap the greatest reward from their Spotify seed investments. They now seem pretty desperate with all this controlled message agenda.

      The music nerds are probably weeping in their beers, as we speak.

      • GGG

        Wait, are nerds “celebrating” or “weeping?” Also, seriously, as one of the doofiest looking people I’ve seen, you calling people nerds is like Oprah calling people fatasses.

        Secondly, the bigger problem here is people like you making this an us vs them, DL vs streaming competition. Nobody in their right mind that defends streaming/Spotify is anti-iTunes. If sales go up, great! If they go up with Spotify, great! If they continue to suck like they have for a decade plus, maybe expanded streaming is a great way to tap into other rev streams. Nobody besides Ek and his cronies want DLing gone for good.

        • Yves Villeneuve

          I have fundamental issues with unlimited access to music at discounted prices.

          I’m open to giving high volume music consumers a consumer cost break. If these services can keep up with artist pay rates (currently 0.00933 per stream based on 1.00 average price per song, 75 listens per song per consumer and a pay rate of 70% of revenues), none of this discounted artist pay rates because it is ad-supported, then I’m in… See my music on Rhapsody.

          Here is my recent blog on the topic

          • jw

            I’m curious, Yves… as an artist, how many albums have you sold? And do you tour often? And would you consider yourself a professional musician or a hobbyist?

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I’m somewhat of an underground artist, meaning my sales are not reported to industry sales trackers. In my case, flying under the radar is the best approach in maintaining steady or increasing sales growth for the entire catalog. I prefer that consumers do not compare my albums by comparing their sales totals… Let the albums speak for themselves.

            I’m not a live performer therefore do not tour. I consider myself to be a homebody but do get out during the day for possible socializing, errands or exercise in a gym.

            I consider myself a professional recording songwriter/artist. I don’t practice my instruments including vocals, therefore my musical talent is hardly refined yet doubt I can achieve that higher level of musicianship anyhow, maybe unless with the help of a compatible mentor. I know I’ve got talent. The problem is, do I have what it takes to refine it. At this point, I am leaning towards keeping on my current path of unrefined musicianship as the correct approach to maintaining future catalog sales when more albums could be added to it.

          • Visitor

            You are very brave to talk like this. It is a same not a lot of indie artists are like you these days. Piracy would die in a month.

            Keep it up and don’t pay too much attention to the trolls.

          • jw

            Sounds like everybody with GarageBand & too much free time to me.

            Yves, your record is one long song. Every song is the same tempo, the same key, the same drum loop, the same guitar tone… you’re an amateur musician. And you last self-released a record 4 years ago. And you don’t perform live. So if you’re not a performing musician, & you’re not a recording musician, you’re just someone arguing on the internet.

            If you’ve peaked creatively, no instructor is going to be of any help to you.

            So who cares if your music is or isn’t on Spotify? Who would be looking for it? What difference does it make? You don’t have a dog in this fight, & so it’s peculiar that you’re arguing so vehemently against the best interests of the consumer when you’re more of a consumer than anything.

          • Said No One Ever

            How dare you. Yves is the voice of our generation.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Whatever. As far as I’m concerned and also obvious to eveyone else, you’ll attack anyone who is not a Spotify Schil even if undeserved. I see you have adopted some aggressive spin tactics. I’ll let others judge them.

            You are certainly entitled to your personal tastes and opinions, the latter justified or not. You may want to keep in mind, though I won’t tell you my album sales, based on website data, on average 24% love, 24% like, 24% dislike and 24% hate my entire music catalog. These are Fans Equivalent Complete-Catalog-Fans, much like we calculate TEA, Tracks Equivalent Albums.

            Roughly 30% of those that love end up buying my entire catalog, while the other 70% may be waiting for free music or free radio play or something except illegal downloading because I urge my true fans not to. Simply liking is not a enough positive sentiment to buy music.

            (my feelings are totally crushed and impossible to recover, ever. You are so good at what you do and believe all of it)

            By the way, thanks for allowing me to express the make up of my audience. Some will find a curious interest in it.

            Spin away…

          • jw

            To each his own. I don’t have any problem with home recording or hobbyist musicians. I just don’t see why you spend so much time arguing against streaming. It’s not like you’re supporting yourself playing music. It’s kind of like, “I’m not a professional musician, but I do play one on the internet.”

            Also, your whole catalog is 2 cds. If someone likes one obviously they like the other because it’s all the same song over & over.

            But just for context for these debates, when people talk about amateur musicians creating noise that legitimate artists have to cut through, or when they talk about the failure of the long tail, etc, they’re talking about releases like yours.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Here is real context and none of that conjecture you are expressing. I support my self through music sales. I’m a professional recording songwriter/artist supporting himself through his craft.

            It may be a tough pill to swallow for a listener who does not have the refined ears to distinguish the different qualities of each of my songs.

            Spin away…

          • jw

            Here’s a serious question, though. You have “anti-piracy” on every one of your pages. Have you ever found your music being pirated? Like a torrent or an mp3 uploaded somewhere? Or you music on a p2p network?

            Is that messaging preventative? Or do you have to spend a lot of time issuing DMCA takedown notices?

          • Yves Villeneuve

            My anti-piracy message does prevent true fans from illegally downloading, in my strong opinion. My sales and corresponding wesbsite data strongly tends to support this theory.

            I also assume torrent sites block any results of searches of my music due to some of my lyrical content, especially “Capture the Wolf” involving the topic of child abuse, including sexual abuse of a child. Paedophiles, who are very close allies of Pirates and other criminals want to avoid these types of songs becoming extremely popular thereby threatening their freedom.

            Believe it or not.

          • jw


            So you’ve never encountered your music actually being pirated. But you’re strongly against it. In theory.

            I see.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I don’t think you see properly. Allowing my music to be pirated does not optimize sales and livelihood in the long term. Also, stealing is bad human behaviour and is most often punishable by incarceration. All the above is a no- brainer for artists who don’t drink the kool-aid.

          • jw

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you should encourage fans to trade your music.

            It’s just interesting to me that you have such strong opinions when there’s no evidence of any demand for your music to actually be pirated.

            It’s peculiar. It seems like you could be spending your time on your craft, rather than crusading against something that’s not clearly affecting you.

            Seems a little neurotic, honestly.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            As long as I hold the evidence of demand for my music, fighting piracy is one of my top priorities and by your definition is not deemed neurotic.

          • jw

            That’s just the thing. Are you fighting legitimate piracy? Or simply the FEAR of piracy? It comes across as piracy hysteria.

            I just feel like, if you really desire a career in music, you could be doing better things with your time than fighting piracy based purely on paranoia.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            It’s not neurotic or paranoid to believe piracy is a widespread industry problem and find ways to effectively fight it on a personal level with personal benefits. I am pretty certain I am more qualified in setting my career priorities based on the evidence I possess though hidden from most everyone else.

            Anyways, I am done with this conversation. Spin aw

  9. GGG

    oh, please…

    brave = delusional beyond belief.

    Though yes, if more indie artists were like Yves, piracy WOULD die in a month. In fact, SALES would die in a month, too. Music would acutally become obsolete due to everything being sooo terrible.

    • GGG

      I’ve known you were deluded, Yves, but this string just takes the cake. There’s just so much here I could rip into but at this point I feel bad. There’s seriously something wrong with you. Please, get help. Seriously.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Go for it. I can smell envy hundreds of miles away.

        • GGG

          Bahaha, the only thing I’m envious is about is that you don’t have to pay rent since you’re a “homebody” that lives with their parents.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            If you still believe I live with my parents and in their attic you don’t know a joke when you read one. Truthfully, I think you’re using this as an excuse not to further embarrass yourself by expressing your insecurities and envy towards other artists.

            This insecurity and envy is evident in the trash talk of music you are unable to comprehend because as a listener your ears are hardly refined to distinguish the different qualities of each of my songs. Don’t blame my fans for your inadequacies as an artist, musical critic and career strategist.

          • GGG

            Haha, here’s an idea: Email Paul. Ask him to link to your iTunes page as a story and ask people to comment on it. We will see what percentage of readers think you are good.

          • GGG

            You know what, yes, I am envious of great musicians. I wish I was as good at guitar as Jeff Beck or Joe Bonamassa or as good at piano as Brad Mehldau or could write songs and perform like Bruce Springsteen or dance and sing like Michael Jackson. I’m potentially even envious of Dr Luke’s guitar playing, haven’t really heard him in a while. Certainly not envious of the pop songs he writes, though.

            But don’t remotely keep trying to flatter yourself that I or anyone is envious of your shit. I could shit out that level of music in 20 minutes. Hell, I could improvise a song equally as meaningless and cliche as what I’ve heard from you.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            You are envious of artists you don’t like and are extremely popular for their contributions to music culture. Follow your statement of being “happily apathetic” towards very popular artists you don’t like. I doubt you will comply.

            Personnally I don’t take reviews and ratings seriously, especially from someone in a minority of music society and obviously insecure about the success or potential success of other artists you are desperate to nail on a cross because you believe are better than they.

            Why don’t you email Paul and make the request yourself. I think Paul would agree, though not entirely certain, your article topic does not fit into the DMN format. Don’t let me discourage you, not my intention.

          • GGG

            I’m not sure if you purposely misinterpret things I say or you really just are that dumb.

            I’m not remotely envious of artists I don’t like besides, I suppose, them being rich. I’d much rather work for artists I respect than be an “artist” whoring myself out with shit music.

            The happily apathetic line was not directed specifically at artists I don’t like. It was about songs, from artists I like and dislike, that are decent songs and/or songs from artists who are actually talented. So Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, people like that. I know they’re talented, and I may enjoy some songs but I’m not blown away by them. That’s being happily apathetic.

            I don’t actually want to subject readers to your music, that’d be too mean.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Next time you mention the names Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber be “happily apathetic” instead of trashing on their music contributions whose tens of millions of fans believe are the pinnacle of music creativity.

            I am done with this conversation. Spin away…

          • GGG

            This might be your worst post ever. So we should just go on willfully allowing shit music to pervade society because people like it? People liked classical music for hundreds of years. People liked jazz too. People liked Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa and the Allman Brothers and Beatles tracks with a fucking sitar and Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and Carol King and Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan and Queen and Paul Simon and Guns n Roses and Pearl Jam and Whitney Houston and Mary J Blige etc etc etc. If you think any of those four “artists” even begin to touch the musicianship of any of those people, you are even worse than I thought.

  10. jw

    Point well taken, Steve. For what it’s worth, I apologize for calling you thick before, I was the one mistaken. The numbers don’t lie.

    Regarding digital album sales, though they may counteract the digital single loss to net a year-over-year total digital revenue gain, I think that’s merely incidental. The key takeaway is the overall sales trend. Digital album sales growth is slowing, & if total digital revenue doesn’t shrink this year, it’s bound to shrink next year. For years the industry called the death of the cd a myth, & I expect the industry to say the same about the digital download, despite recent history clearly indicating otherwise.

    The digital download was a function of bandwidth limitations, & makes no sense in the modern technological landscape. The industry can either cling to the digital download, resist streaming & endure another difficult transition period, or embrace what is clearly the future and position itself for longterm financial health & a reconciliation with it’s audience.

    • Yves Villeneuve

      Here is a model.

      No CDs, No Vinyl.

      Buy a song or album and stream it from the cloud. The next evolution of streaming and ownership.

      • Visitor

        “Buy a song or album and stream it from the cloud. The next evolution of streaming and ownership.”


  11. steveh

    Thankyou sir, apology accepted.

    Digital album sales growth is slowing

    I haven’t seen definitive data on this. On the 2012 report digital albums grew 14.10% from year 2011 to year 2012.

    The digital download was a function of bandwidth limitations, & makes no sense in the modern technological landscape.

    You are ignoring downloads of full wavs or lossless FLACs. It was the MP3 that was the function of bandwidth limitations.

    Looking ahead, can you not see a post CD high bandwidth landscape of super quality audio downloads? 24bit is already here in download form, and then could be moving to 32bit 96k and onwards.

    I still don’t buy this “future belongs to us” attitude of the streaming brigade. Yes streaming is a nice concept – first proposed back in the 80s actually. But if it can’t pay the musician/artist/creators properly it’s fucked.

    My problem with streaming is ultimately political. It gives too much power to the streaming company. It does not empower the individual creator.

    • jw

      I’m just not sure that saving loose files on your hard drive is a behavior that’s going to last. Whenever I create a new document on my Mac it asks me to save to iCloud, not to my local drive. My Windows 8 phone asks me to save to SkyDrive. My laptop only has 2 USB ports, which are always occupied by my keyboard & my Balance. Local storage & usb connectivity are becoming a thing of the past in favor of the cloud. Why would music be any different?

      The reason I’m excited about Spotify’s product is that the p2p component of their desktop software is going to allow them to serve full resolution audio to subscribers before any other streaming service because they won’t have to deal with the bottlenecks of a centrally located service. Currently Google Fiber allows users to download at unbelievable speeds, provided the content server can match the speed, & none currently can. But Spotify will leverage the Fiber bandwidth to provide it’s content.

      Any locally stored content is a function of bandwidth limitations. Right now you can say, “Spotify streams 320kbps ogg, but I can download Flac.” And when Spotify starts streaming full resolution audio you’ll be able to say, “Spotify streams full resolution, but I can download super resolution.” But at a certain point bandwidth is no longer a limitation & you’re out of trump cards. And at that point you’ve spent all of this money building mismatched collections in different formats when 20 million songs are available in super resolution & all that time you could’ve been building playlists & building your library & subscribing to users & getting recommendations & so on. Your songs are never made obsolete the way that downloads are. (This is the very idea behind iTunes’ Match system, that they can sidestep the obsoletion of all these m4a files by scanning folks’ libraries & then streaming files back to them at the modern resolution.)

      Saying, “mp3s were a function of bandwidth limitations, but not wavs or flac” is pretty short sighted, imo.

      I see personal computing migrating towards smaller solid state storage drives (the best improvement made to personal computing in a loooong time) & much more cloud storage & cloud computing.

      Regarding payment, the problem isn’t streaming, it’s AD SUPPORTED streaming. Everyone agrees with that, it’s a short term loss leader. These issues, format turnover, device turnover, etc, will all prove the value of premium streaming & will affect the ratio of free-to-premium users which will positively affect artist payouts. At a certain point free usage will be restricted, but you can only slam the door behind those users once… you better make sure you’ve got enough users in there to reach critical mass for subscriptions before you slam that door.

      Honestly, as a consumer, I haven’t seen Spotify exercise any political power. iTunes, however, we’ve seen a lot of political power exercised. Any distributor is going run into that, though… Apple used to be the underdog. If one day CDBaby wasn’t the underdog, all of the sudden their motives would be questioned, too. I’m all for competition, & I hope that Rdio & Deezer do well, & I hope that SiriusXM continues to do well & even Pandora. But Spotify is easily the best product of the lot.

  12. Just G

    The reason why is that as soon as I could, I downloaded all of my favorites, the classics, etc … quality music. That was several years ago … the current music out there, I DONT EVEN CALL MUSIC … we need a revolution … AGAIN!!!!

  13. FarePlay

    Boy there’s a lot of fancy dancing going on around here or is it denial?

    None of this bodes well for the future of music.