Album Sales Sink to Their Lowest Levels Since 1991…

  • Save

The strangest part about this is that vinyl continues to explode; it’s one of the brightest and most exciting aspects of the music industry today!  But it’ also just a fringe event, unable to save a collapsing CD and flattening digital albums.  The un-bundling revolution is now over.

Which means that if your monetization strategy involves bundling recordings and selling them, it also needs to involve a long list of other things.

And the latest nadir is this: According to stats published by Nielsen Soundscan, weekly albums lulled around 4.5 million this past week, which is the lowest recorded since Soundscan started recording in 1991.  Which also means that album sales are now sinking into an unmeasurable black hole.

Still, the top 0.01% are still managing to sell bundles: Katy Perry’s chart-topper, Prism, shifted north of 286,000 units, but was obviously unable to save the mess.  Others, like mega-marketed Justin Timberlake and Adele, are also extreme anomalies.

Image by Fr. Ted, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

44 Responses

  1. Stu

    An unmeasurable black hole based on a measurement of 4.5m units? 😉

  2. Anonymous

    Wow, you can stream everything for free and sales DROP?

    Who could have guessed that…

      • Anonymous

        Oh, I didn’t realize sales have just started dropping since streaming became ubiquitous. That kind of thinking wouldn’t be ignoring the decade that came before or anything. 😉

  3. FarePlay

    While streaming, particularly the unlimited, minimally curated services like Spotify are really contributing nothing to musicians and songwriters, the real question is just how broken the entire business of music appears to be.

    How many times have people heard the argument that people overpay for CDs/LPs and digital downloads, FOR ONE SONG, as if to imply that EVERY CD/LP/digital download HAS ONLY ONE GOOD SONG and music is a rip off. This is a generalization, that shouldn’t even be part of the conversation, yet it is burnished into our consciousness, just like don’t pay it ALL goes to the evil record labels, or shut up or we’ll destroy your career and make your fans believe you’re greedy and ride around in limos.

    And then you have the entertainment industry that is only makings matters worse and appears to have no clue for developing campaigns that help people understand the problem or point out the obvious, music has value and people lives are made better everyday because of it.

    There are many great artists, who produce lasting work that deserves to get heard. If we can’t or refuse to figure out how to support musicians, songwriters, filmmakers, authors and the entire creative community, our lives will be the worse for it.

    • jw

      Wow, man.

      Yeah, often times people only want the single, or only want a couple of songs. Last week 1.3b+ digital download singles were sold. That pretty much proves the point. Those people didn’t want to buy the whole album, & they shouldn’t have to. What’s your problem with that?

      • FarePlay

        You’re going to have to do better. Weak argument, just like the Dreamworks comment.

        You have nothing to say. You just want to be contrary.

        • GGG

          Are you against being able to DL singles? I mean, I am in theory, but in practicality it’s a bit silly at this point.

      • A-J Charron

        The problem with people who buy singles is that they don’t bother listening to the whole album. It’s like in the good old days of radio; radio played a song or two; people were told these songs were good and often they didn’t listen to the rest of the album (because no one told them to). Same argument with singles. Here’s a good single, no one even tells you if there’s an album to go with it. “Buy” buttons should offer the whole album rather than the single and should lead to a page that talks about the album, get people intereseted.

        Other point address the format: With a CD lasting 80 minutes sometimes, if you just want to hear two songs, one at the beginning and one at the end, it’s annoying to have to wait 40 minutes or so to get to the second song. And it’s easy to skip forward and not bother listening to the rest of the album. That’s why people go to mp3’s and streaming. With vinyl, each side being a maximum of 20 minutes and you had to get up and switch sides, it seemed less annoying (and not as long) to wait for the song you wanted. And you generally ended up listening to the whole thing and liking more songs from the album.

        The switch from vinyl to CD is what killed the industry. Sales rose (at least we think, since soundscan didn’t exist, it’s impossible to know the real numbers) with the new format because people were told it was better and that vinyls would become obsolete. People discovered the “skip” option and this became even easier with mp3’s. That’s where it all came from.

      • jw

        What I meant to say was “last year 1.3b+ digital download singles were sold.” Typo.

    • hippydog

      quote “How many times have people heard the argument that people overpay for CDs/LPs and digital downloads, FOR ONE SONG, as if to imply that EVERY CD/LP/digital download HAS ONLY ONE GOOD SONG and music is a rip off.”
      one.. its not that people have just “heard the argument” like its some urban myth.. enough people have EXPERIENCED it, to make it close to a fact.. Ask any person who has a CD collection..
      Are all albums filled with valueless fluff? of course not!.. but there are NOT enough GOOD albums that exist as a ‘whole concept’ to offset the perception..

      I agree that its a bad perception, and not really accurate.. But its the result of the music industry trying to shoe horn all music into a disc and sell it all at the same price..

      • FarePlay

        I have a cd, cassette and LP collection that numbers about 1,500 and I have another 2,000 paid song downloads. I’d say 80 to 90% of those physical recordings are predominantly comprised of songs I’m grateful to own. And yes, as a result of paid digital downloads I have single songs by artists whose albums I would not purchase.

        I rarely purchase complete album downloads because I would prefer to buy the cd and usually those are about the same price, so that’s a no brainier. Every year I give CDs and books as gifts. Last year I gave people Hejira by Joni Mitchell, I think it was $7.99 per cd. And I considered that to be a great, personal gift.

        I’m here because I love music. Often I wonder why others are here. I guess I’m the fortunate one and grew up in a very different music culture before CDs, Clear Channel, Live Nation and Stub Hub.

  4. TuneHunter

    CDs are finished so there is no reaseon to cry about it!
    We still have to reopen the sales – it is the only way to recovery and very easy to accomplish.
    No need to chase pirate websites and send take down notices. We just need to harnes all perfectly legal connections to those sites so they can generate own and industry profits.
    The internet is superb for music sales – lets just give some cash to all of those who keep the music in the open.
    Shazam and Google Lyrics ID are the biggest free music catalizers and CONNECTORS TO FREE.

  5. Walter

    15 or so years ago, record companies took delight in making us buy an otherwise crappy album just to get the one song we wanted (“Tubthumping” anyone?). Now, I take delight in watching consumers being able to decide what they want and in what format they want it.

    • FarePlay

      Walter, it didn’t take long for someone to take the bait, although JW beat you to it, his response is murkier.

      “How many times have people heard the argument that people overpay for CDs/LPs and digital downloads, FOR ONE SONG, as if to imply that EVERY CD/LP/digital download HAS ONLY ONE GOOD SONG and music is a rip off. This is a generalization, that shouldn’t even be part of the conversation, yet it is burnished into our consciousness, just like don’t pay it ALL goes to the evil record labels…..”

      3 more things:

      1. Yes, some “Album Downloads” have only 1 good track.

      2. I have no issue with the fact that people can download 1 track. BUT there are releases that have all good tracks and some that even have all great tracks. The point being made is very, very simple: as long as people keep saying: “they made me buy the whole album and it had ONE good track”, the more people start to believe that albums in general only have one good track.

      If you’re interested in responding simply say in the past year there is not one album worth owning, even though, thank god, the cost of complete recordings, albums, records, CDs, not LPs, downloads have come down.

      3. Stop leaving the artist and songwriter out of the conversation. If an artist has chosen to sign with a major label and you don’t pay or purchase because you have an ethical and moral problem with major record labels, you are also screwing the artist and/or songwriter who has signed a contract with that label.

    • wrong

      that argument just never makes sense. you don’t think record labels would love four or 5 singles from an album? the more hits the more profit. are you saying they don’t actually want more profit?

      do you know how many songs are considered for an album by a major artist? hundreds, sometimes thousands, if they are looking at songs written by ‘outsiders’. do you think that they look at thousands of songs just to find the filler?

      and there are many anecdotes about surprise hits… from Satisfaction to Train in Vain, songs on albums that they had no idea were going to resonate with people.

    • GGG

      Well, the thing isn’t that people/labels were actively putting one good song on an album of crap (usually), it’s that some people just only WANT 1 or 2 songs for whatever reason. At the height of CD sales, huge acts still sold to a fraction of the population. Many more people enjoyed those acts but didn’t buy a record for any number of reasons. And many others bought a record because of 1 song. Doesn’t mean they never listened to or enjoyed the other ones. Plenty of people did. But the ability to just get that one or two songs you want was huge. Many people are not completists. They don’t need full albums. They don’t care about some pop stars artistic statement. They just want the song they heard on the radio.

      As to FarePlay, I don’t think any sane people actually think an album only has 1 good track. You’re perpetuating your own myth. Again, many people simply just don’t care about anything passed the single; the track they already know they love. Music is just not something the average person enjoys taking a risk on anymore.

      • FarePlay

        GGG if you step back from the conversation for a minute, let’s see if I can be clearer.

        FarePlay’s perspective isn’t an either or proposition. I’m not a stupid person. Clearly digital streaming (in some business model that is workable for the company and the artist) is the future. At the same time if we can maintain some level of elevated revenue for the artist through paid download and physical product sales, that is a good thing. Why so many commenters are put off by that model is totally unintelligible to me. What’s the obsession with a digital only world? And why not support channels where artists can actually make some money?

        FarePlay is 100% artist centric in this entire debate. I’m not fighting for the entertainment industry and I’m not fighting for progress or the tech industry. I’m fighting for the individual artist, whether they release their own recordings, are signed to an inidie label or are signed to a major label.

        I don’t believe online piracy is ever going to disappear and I don’t believe legislation, lawsuits or technology are the best ways to “improve” the situation. I believe this is accomplished through education and understanding. More than anything, I believe we need an entire shift in perception and the real problem is that we have a communication / messaging problem about artists’ lives and digital distribution.

        I find it amazing that I’m seen as the one who is narrow minded. And yes, I’m not a fan of streaming services, but accept that they are not going away, so for me it’s about getting the best deal for the artists and not the stockholders. We are experiencing a rapid and pervasive consolidation of wealth in this country and the prime recipients have moved from finance to tech. Am I the only one concerned about that here? What’s happening to artists is symblamatic of what’s happening throughout the world.

        But I digress. I’m not tied to the outcome of Spotify or Pandora. If they fail, someone with a better business model will replace them. One thing I know for sure, the Internet is the most powerful force in the world and that makes me uncomfortable.

        • GGG

          I understand and agree with this for the most part. I can’t speak for other people, but it’s not that I think you are narrow-minded, as you even state here you see the inevitable. Where I disagree with you is just in the decision to restrict looking at new tech/new rev streams because it’s most likely less money, as opposed to trying to figure out how to work with those inevitabilities. And again, I have no problem with still championing physical either, I just don’t think it should be done in the sense of trying to get people to go back to it. Trust me, we’re kindred spirits when it comes to loving music, and really in what type of world we’d want for it. I just can’t help but separate that emotional type of response from the “well, this sucks but it’s gonna happen, so let’s see what we can do” response. That’s really the only place you and I differ.

          A perfect example was that article Paul posted about some guy making playlists and their music streams went through the roof. It was a long time ago so I have no idea if you were involved with the comments, but people got upset because it was against the desired, perfect way we want everyone to consume music. I certainly had those same reactions in my head, but at the same time it was also “well, here’s one way to try and maximize revenue from this model, let’s try it.”

  6. FarePlay

    GGG with the two recent DMN posts that show a decline in recorded music sales, do you still believe we are headed in a viable direction with these streaming services? Or are we headed down this road with no way out? How do you see this working? And I know you’re too smart to give me the touring, t-shirt sale, advertising answer. Bonus: Paid subscriber can account for part of your answer.

    JW if you have any brilliant insights please step up to the plate. Consider it an invitation, not a challenge.

    I’m not trying to be a smart ass, this is seriously scary.

    • GGG

      Well, yes and no, depending on how you look at it. I don’t think streaming rev can replace record sales in the near future if ever. But there is a chance if streaming becomes so normalized, hundreds of millions of people just subscribe because it’s what you do, and then you will see hit song plays in the billions for sure. Midlevel hits probably substantially better and the niche-ier stuff will all depend on how big the scene is, crossover appeal, etc. The money can certainly be there, though this is admittedly not in the next 5 years at least.

      But I don’t think of streaming as replacing record sales. I think of streaming as a brand new revenue stream that is replacing piracy and the idea of free music. And the big thing is I don’t put any more clout in any one revenue stream. I try to sell records as much as I try to sell just listening to the bands. You use touring and merch and advertising like they’re bad words. Why? It’s money. It’s stuff people (if you have fans) want. I think that’s a terrible business model to dismiss those things because of some utopian principle. Yes, records used to be like 80% of the pie and it sucks it’s not there, but now you have to focus your energy on the artist’s long term career 100% of the time, not the record 100% for 6 months and forget about everything else. That model doesn’t work like it used to. You have to distribute your energy smarter, and that includes making awesome merch people want, and going to play to your fans often and getting synch deals. People act like doing these things leave no time to make money. You have plenty of time, you can hire people, people can do stuff as a favor, you can get a great team behind you, etc.

      Basically, you have to look at every revenue stream as more or less equal now. Favoring one can leave money on the table from others. Dismissing one because you think it’s not fair or silly can leave money on the table. And if there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that we sure as hell don’t want to leave money on the table.

    • jw

      Here’s the thing about the internet, FairPay. Before the internet, technologies would regularly be invented, maybe even patented, that would never reach the public because someone in a suit who controlled the money decided that the technology couldn’t be adequately monetized or didn’t jive with the current business model or wasn’t a sure bet or just wasn’t worth the effort. People were inventing technologies for some bro to say, “Hey, I can make money off of this one! Throw the rest in the garbage,” regardless of what effect it could’ve had on consumers, the environment, etc. In effect, quality or usefulness were not paramount.

      These days, because of the internet & 3d printing & various efficiencies in design & development & distribution & financing platforms, no one really has to get some big wig’s say-so before releasing a technology. In this modern era, the most useful, rather than the most profitable, technologies rise to the top, which puts consumers in control. The role of the corporation has shifted from presiding over the evolution of technology to monetizing whatever technology happens to come along.

      If the music industry had the foresight to realize this transition was happening at the turn of the century, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I think that we can all agree on that, & that point is… well, it’s THE point that needs to be understood.

      Because the music industry didn’t pick up on this, & because they spent more than a decade fighting the transition, artists are currently paying the consequences. By & large, these artists signed their interests away to their labels. Correct? This can’t be understated. Artists put the monetization of their work in the hands of executives who were proven incompetent to manage the transition from dictating technology to monetizing technology, & those labels are now using their leverage to make up for lost profits, or at least ensure their own survival, at the expense of the artists. So when you say, “I’m only interested in the well-being of the artists,” but all of your ire is directed towards consumers & technology, it becomes clear that you’re not looking at the whole picture. In your arguments, I haven’t really seen you holding labels responsible for their part in this debacle, & I haven’t seen you holding artists accountable for the agreements that they signed.

      Given that artists are suffering from mistakes that the labels made, the solution, therefore, is not to continue those mistakes by dictating the terms of music consumption to consumers, which is what all of your arguments seem to try & do. That makes sense, right? Monetization in the internet age comes after consumer behavior is determined, or is made in advance of consumer behavior shifts. Try anything else, & you’re just going to get dwindling sales.

      Therefore the decline in cd sales has very little to do with consumer confidence in recorded music. At this point, with so much music available for free whether through streaming services, illegal downloading, or even pre-release streams, most consumers are well aware of the general quality of albums. And yet, people still want singles. A lot of what I listen to in Spotify is singles, even though I have access to full albums. This is a big reason why cd sales have declined. Since the innovation of the mixtape, there has been indication of this singles-centric consumer behavior, it’s only natural that the internet would fuel this behavior. You’ve said yourself that you lived through the ’70s, which was the rise of the album format. That’s clearly your bias… the modern consumer behaves much differently.

      The decline of CD sales is going to continue, that’s an irreversible trend. My laptop has no cd rom. Neither of my stereos have a cd player. The only way I can even play a CD in my home is through my ps3, & more often than not I’m buying games over the playstation network, so I could see the ps5 not even having a cd rom. Most people I know would buy a new car with no CD player, so long as it has an aux in for their phones or ipods. There’s really no benefit to the format (versus unbundled digital downloads or streaming), except that it allows for content owners to bundle content & force consumers to buy potentially unwanted music. It’s not that anyone is rallying for the death of that revenue stream, it’s just that putting effort into sustaining the format is demonstrably futile. We have a decade plus of proof.

      Furthermore, it’s premature to declare anything about streaming. The format is young, & growing very fast, all things considered. The measuring stick is not “Is streaming growing quickly enough to keep up with the loss in sales?” That would be serendipitous, though not at all likely. Even still, there are indications that the format could be a real boon for the industry. First & foremost, we have data from countries like Sweden where the technology was not fought & streaming revenue IS outpacing losses in physical sales (as a country, the U.S. is several years behind many european countries). And then we have comments from Daniel Ek saying that even with the free tier, Spotify’s profits are growing disproportionately as it’s user base grows, & Drew Larner saying that Rdio will be “wildly profitable” at 25-30m paying subscribers. The fact of the matter is that 9 folks out of 10 in the U.S. have never heard of Spotify, & far fewer have heard of Rdio. Unfortunately, streaming isn’t as “sexy” a news story as Napster was. And yet there’s this gigantic sea of potential streaming service users, who are never going to purchase another CD, who will otherwise remain untapped. If the industry really wants to start moving in a positive direction, it’s going to have to say, “Alright, we FINALLY see where things are going… they’re not quite there yet, but the monetization is in place & we have the power to push things along, to more quickly reach that critical mass which is going to benefit everyone.”

      And then what? Maybe artists file a class action lawsuit & get their contracts renegotiated. Or maybe there’s some statutory rate instituted for streaming. I don’t know how artists are going to get that monkey off of their back. But the point is that streaming is the future, the industry can keep fighting it, or they can get ahead of the ball & ensure that, as streaming really breaks into the mainstream, profits are maximized & everyone is properly compensated, at least according to their legal agreements.

      • FarePlay

        Dude you’re a piece of work. I’ll sum you up in 3 words. Resistance is Futile.

        And people who don’t agree with you are idiots. Good luck with that.

          • FarePlay

            JW, I was merely offering you an opportunity to respond to more disturbing news for artists. I don’t think we can overlook Spotify’s impact on recorded music sales or transpose the problem to the major record labels or the artists. It just doesn’t make sense. And while there is research that disputes my “opinion” I believe that conclusion is inescapable.

            I do think it was a brilliant strategic move to bring the labels in as equity partners and have payments go to the labels. Brilliant.

            In regard to Spotify, which appears to be very important to you, unless things change, you and I are only rehashing arguments we’ve already explored in detail. So until there’s something new I’m complete.

          • GGG

            But the thing is there really doesn’t seem to be any hard data correlation between streaming and sales. People get on my case when I bring this up time and time again, but Thom Yorke can make a HUGE impact by just releasing Eraser sales if, in fact, Spotify was stealing them away.

            I may be mistaken but didn’t one study actually show sales shrinking by less. In other words, it’s still a shitty situation of album sales dropping, but if they’ve been dropping at the same rate since 2000, and didn’t increase, and actually dropped less or flatlined any time since 2008, isn’t there something to be said about streaming’s impact? That it’s a statistical non-issue?

          • FarePlay

            GGG, even the underlying promo for Spotify is “everything you need is right here” and aren’t you really using the same argument that the pro-piracy faction uses: “our studies show that illegal downloading actually sells music”. Isn’t it simply intuitive to believe that Spotify will impact sales of recorded music? This isn’t a smoking gun, this is a smoking howitzer.

            If Spotify is super successful, do you really believe they are going to pass along enough revenue to make anyone serious about being a musician as a career? Even if Spotify’s payments tripled it doesn’t amount to anything really.

            At least Pandora’s model promotes discovery, alright GGG, at least more naturally.

          • GGG

            Of course their promo is going to champion that idea and their service. Just like the Lynnked article Paul posted has them talking up how much better they’ll be and their FAQ on streaming payouts is a vague as humanely possible. I won’t defend any random PR speak from any company.

            As for the argument, no, because as I just pointed out all the data I’ve seen basically just shows (much of it posted on this site) album sales tanking at the same rate they’ve been for years, or slower. You could certainly argue that maybe you thought sales were going to shoot back up and streaming killed that, but I think that’s a bit optimistic. So no, I don’t think streaming leads to many album sales. I think its a great discovery/anti-streaming too, though. Let’s put SOME money back in music first and then build on that. And sure, it’s intuitive, but it’s not necessarily statistically correct at this point. There will certainly be a tipping point, I don’t deny that. But at this juncture, its a tool that can certainly build a career from an active fan point of view. This idea that such a large percentage of acts signed to a label before 2000 just automatically had a huge fanbase, sold a ton of records and made bank is irresponsible.

            As for Spotify amounting to anything, I think you have to look at how many different types of listeners there are. You’ve got fans who would 100% buy the record, you’ve got fans who weren’t going to buy it, you’ve got fans who would have pirated it, you have fans of the single(s), you have curious want to hear everything people, you have people checking it out from blog/friend/whatever recommendation, you have people who might hear a track in a playlist, etc. A band 5 years from now comparable to one expecting 100K sales in 2013 would need 100M song streams across a record to gross the same (assuming streaming blows up and pays a penny a stream). For a band with decent exposure, which a 100K presumed sale band would have, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Many probably won’t get there, but they’ll get close. And DLs might still make up some of the difference. And a band with a hit at those levels, ie over 100M streamers, would easily make bank. Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive is up to 150M on Spotify alone. You know, shitty Spotify that has no users. 100M users, they’d have passed a billion plays by now.

            So I think it will be tiers. A smaller band who’s fans may have about 10K records early on might not stream their stuff a million times, so they will still struggle, as small bands always have. But it will go up exponentially. The risk factor is taken out, so if you have 100 people hear about your band and nowadays maybe 1 buys a record, prevalent streaming might give 25-50 of those people reason to check out at least one song. For once, the dirty word exposure can actually pay.

          • FarePlay

            GGG, well thought out response. It all comes back to how we get there and honestly I don’t know. But what I do know is that very few musicians have a lot of time to have a career. And here’s the point I don’t move from. Until these streaming services show me that they are serious about getting paid subscriptions, they get none, zero of my belief, respect or support.

            Until their “free” subscribers are willing to pay, they don’t have a business. Spotify is circling the globe to find new markets, but reluctant to put the rubber to the road here in the US. Netflix gives you 30 days to stream old movies and tv shows, Hulu gives you a week. Pandora and Spotify seemingly give you eternity.

          • GGG

            I certainly don’t know either or I’d be rich right now. But at the moment streaming is one way to bring in money that’s been missing, so why not see how it goes? If something better comes along I will absolutely jump all over it. I’m not pro-streaming because I think it SHOULD be the future per se, I’m pro streaming because there’s literally no other viable alternative at this point. Besides wishful thinking.

          • jw

            This is the thing, man. My laptop isn’t missing a cd-rom because of Spotify. Adobe didn’t stop selling Photoshop on cd-rom because of Spotify. Video games aren’t moving towards cloud-based services like Steam & PSN because of Spotify. There is a culture-wide waning interest in the format that’s been happening for years & years & years. Spotify may be, to some degree, the beneficiary of this trend, but to suggest that it is the cause of it is downright ignorant. That’s not anybody’s opinion, those are just plain black & white facts. What do you make of iTunes album sales rising over the past couple of years? I would guess that those otherwise would have been cd purchases, as there’s nothing that suggests a renewed interest in the album format from existing digital downloaders.

            The reality of the situation is that few consumers, if any at all, have transitioned from cd purchases directly to streaming services like Spotify. Consumers are far more likely to transition from piracy or from digital downloading to streaming. This is clear when you look at consumer behavior in the U.S. versus Sweden. For some consumers, Spotify is an easy transition… those who already rely on digital downloads for their music listening have the behaviors that make Spotify make sense to them. But consumers who are buying CDs, especially users who STILL haven’t made a digital transition, Spotify doesn’t make a lot of sense to those consumers, & they’re highly unlikely to adopt streaming behavior.

            Those are the reasons that none of the data supports your “smoking gun” theory. The truth of the matter is that Spotify is simply an easy scapegoat for you because you’re out of touch with larger trends in consumer behavior. You’re out of your mind if you think that consumers who are out buying Miley Cyrus & Drake & Katy Perry CDs are, in droves, all of the sudden abandoning the format for Spotify.

            You’re just plain wrong. And until you let go of the CD format & stop scapegoating technology companies, you’re never going to understand what I’ve taking great efforts to try & explain to you.

            Also, you say it was a “brilliant move” for Spotify to offer up equity & up front payments to the labels… are you KIDDING ME? Do you not remember how many time Spotify announced “We’re launching this fall! I mean we’re launching this spring! I mean maybe by the end of this year! Next year for sure!” during their negotiations with the labels? I remember each time the U.S. launch was delayed because I was paying to route through a server in Birmingham, England to access the free U.K. service. The labels had PROVISIONS in their artist contracts that forfeited artists rights to any revenue (or equity, as it turns out) incurred based on the entire catalog, so the labels were WAITING for this opportunity to extract a ransom at the expense of the service & also their artists. This was not some good faith offering that Spotify approached the labels with. Again, that’s not an opinion, that’s black & white facts.

        • jw

          You’re looking for a way of sidestepping the issues, as usual.

          I’m old enough to have grown up listening to cassette tapes & young enough to have been an early adopter to Napster, AudioGalaxy, et al. I’m not sure what kind of context you’re looking for, but it won’t change the facts.

          • FarePlay

            JW, you are predictable if nothing else. It isn’t a trick and I’m not the one posting anonymously. I’m simply trying to gain an understanding of someone’s world when their perceptions were formed, so that I have a better understanding of the conversation.

            I was going to say “I’m sure” but in this case I will say “Perhaps” you would agree that someone who grew up in the 70’s and was into music has a different perspective about music and the music business than someone who grew up in the 90’s and was into music. You are not the only one I’m asking BTW.

          • jw

            At this point, everyone who lived through the ’00s should have the same perspective.

            When you talk about multiple perspectives, that makes me think of the music execs who have presided over the industry’s downfall. They shared your perspective, were resistant to change, & calamity ensued. If you’re suggesting that you share that mentality… that’s a destructive mentality in the internet era, & it’s a mentality that would see the industry continue to collapse until it’s unrecognizable.

            These issues aren’t subjective. Having grown up in the ’70s doesn’t give you an excuse for being wrong, just like it doesn’t give the industry executives an excuse for what’s happened. But even Doug Morris has expressed some remorse… he wasn’t a technologist, he couldn’t have picked up on what was happening even if he wanted to, & he tried to make good on that by extracting a ransom from Spotify in order to keep his business going. But you remain steadfast in your beliefs, however antiquated.

            You can’t just say, “despite all of the facts, I believe that Spotify is cannibalizing cd sales because I grew up in the ’70s & that’s my perspective & what I want to believe.” It doesn’t work like that.

          • FarePlay

            “At this point, everyone who lived through the ’00s should have the same perspective.”

            Do you really believe half the things you say? Can your world possibly be that monochromatic?

          • jw

            Absolutely. Consumer behavior is the driver in this industry going forward. That’s black & white. Compact disc sales will only continue to decline. That’s black & white.

            It sounds like you’re suggesting that if I don’t leave room for the resurgence of the plastic disc, bundled format, & if I don’t write the content owners into the narrative as underdogs, righteously trying to regain control of distribution, then I’m a bad, bad man. But this isn’t about right or wrong, good or bad… it’s about economics. And this stuff isn’t up for debate. It’s not 2003. It’s 2013. Get with the program.

            Monetizing access, activating passive music fans, attention-based payouts… if the recorded music industry is going to return to growth, this is what it’s going to look like. Maybe there will be other revolutionary ideas, but I don’t see any on the horizon. Streaming seems the most promising to me. But what’s clear is that the per album or per track transaction, & especially the cd format, are going the way of the dinosaur. If “monochromatic” is some kind of negative spin on those ideas, then call me whatever you must.

          • FarePlay

            I’m not even talking about streaming or cds or any of that. I’m talking about life.

            Why would anyone want to get with “your” program?