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Music Media Media (Apple) The Almighty Buck

After Brief Respite Music Industry Slump Deepens 547

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "Sales picked up for the record labels late last year, but 2005 has been bleak. The Wall Street Journal ticks off evidence: 'During the crucial Thanksgiving week, for instance, the top 10 albums sold 40% fewer copies than the top 10 albums the same week in 2004. ... Sales of individual digital tracks on services like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store have increased -- but not nearly enough to offset the slide in CD sales. According to an estimate from SoundScan, overall sales of recorded music are down about 4.5%, if one considers 10 individual tracks the equivalent of an album.' The WSJ also lists familiar reasons for the decline -- 'online piracy, CD burning, high prices and competition for consumer dollars from videogames and DVDs' -- while adding, 'Lately, people in the music industry have said the same basic issues have been intensified by the growing popularity of pricey gadgets like Apple's iPod and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, as well as the rising prices for games that go with the new platform.'"
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After Brief Respite Music Industry Slump Deepens

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  • Getting Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:44AM (#14278613)
    I wonder if they ever thought about the Quality of the music they sell??
    • Re:Getting Old (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ozmanjusri ( 601766 )
      I wonder if they ever thought about the Quality of the music they sell??

      It's not just the quality of the music, it's the quality of the entire industry. I used to buy 3-4 CDs a month, but I'm so disgusted by the behaviour of the music industry representatives that I now only buy from local bands. I get a lot of good stuff from http://www.archive.org/audio/etree.php [archive.org] too - there's more than 29,000 tracks there.
      • Re:Getting Old (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Amouth ( 879122 )
        I know what you mean i use http://magnatune.com/ [magnatune.com] they have a wonderful service and good music at good prices.. and you can download in just about any worth while format including flac... I wonder if the "Industry" even considers that there is "other" stuff out there that we might be listening too and not just the pre-programed crap that they have been putting out..
      • quality of industry (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dpilot ( 134227 )
        Ir CDBaby, where we order, sometimes.

        They give such good custoemr treatment. Accodring to their confirmation letter, their entire staff sings as they march MY cd to shipping, on a gold pillow. What service!
      • Re:Getting Old (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @11:31AM (#14279634) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, same here. My collection would be a bit more varied but for every news story about the RIAA suing some grandmother and every news story about how Sony gets more tangled in its rootkit tar baby, the less inclined I am to buy another CD.

        And you know, people here say "Yeah but Joe Average User doesn't know anything about that and will keep buying the crap the industry pumps out!" But the Sony story was big news. Once the recording industry's antics make it on to Joe Average User's radar, Joe will be feeling some righteous anger toward them. And although it takes much more crap to get his attention, once you have it he holds a grudge a LOT longer than I do.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:20AM (#14278721)
      This just in...

      Music piracy is also down a whopping 69% for the same week in 2004.

      Not only are they not able to peddle their overpriced crap on us but now their overpriced crap is so bad that it doesn't even inspire us to steal it from them.
      • I thought it was jsut me. I haven found a new album woth downloading in about a year. The stuff thats out there is so bad, its not worth it, even when the cost is 0 to me.
    • Re:Getting Old (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mochan_s ( 536939 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:20AM (#14278723)
      I wonder if they ever thought about the Quality of the music they sell??

      As equipment prices fall, more people have tools to create better music. A lot of stuff out there is simply amazing but just a good distribution, reviewing and cataloging service is missing.

      MP3.com was going towards that but was torpedoed and killed off. You could check your local bar listing for bands playing in the month and find their mp3s on mp3.com. Sometimes, you'd find stuff that was simply amazing.

      RIAA and the big music distribution is simply snuffing the real good music. I mean the TV-series tied starlet singer with lewd videos with movie tie in are all good for a certain demographic but it's useless for most of the people. Websites like allmusic.com are a step in the direction but lack strength to store songs in decent quality and rely too much on a few professional reviewers who sometimes get it very wrong.

      Anyway, it's the atrocious musicians who make all the money and most others who make no money that is really terrible. There is no graduated system for good bands to rise up. It's just who gets picked up. Most local bands have to create their own posters, promo materials and have to do their own booking.

      The British music scene is so much better. The American scene has to many dinosaurs and defunct genres still raking it in. The American press is really terrible with music as well.

      • Re:Getting Old (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eshefer ( 12336 )
        "MP3.com was going towards that but was torpedoed and killed off."

        as a former mp3.com artist that's NOT how I remember it.

        Mp3.com started this way, and had a lot of potential. what REALLY happened is that they were after the traditional music market - and that's where they were headed - the idea of the music-suitcase (which, incidently, robertson is reviving now) - where mp3.com hold the traditional cataloge and people can access it anyware (I remember robertson talking about cellphones back then) as long a
    • Re:Getting Old (Score:5, Interesting)

      by knarf ( 34928 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:07AM (#14278821) Homepage
      TFA does not mention what the industry suits think on that subject but it does contain the following quotes:
      But many retailers and label executives alike point to a more fundamental problem this year: A lack of hit acts. Don VanCleave, president of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, says blame lies with "an absolute, gigantic cesspool of really bad bands."
      ...
      "It's almost like we need a new genre of music," says John Sullivan, chief financial officer of Trans World Entertainment Corp., which operates music stores under the FYE and Coconuts names, among others. "There hasn't been anything fresh to get consumers excited in a while."
      • Maybe we've finally hit that point when everyone gets disgusted at the old stuff and goes on to create new genres? It happened following all major periods of music, and we're about due for it again now.
    • Re:Getting Old (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:11AM (#14278828)
      Besides, why would I pay them if I know they will pocket most of the money instead of giving it to the artist that I intend to support?


      These companies should just face the truth that they are no longer able to sustain increasing profits from selling overpriced low quality shit. Sony, EMI and Universal executives will just have to settle with a new Mercedes this Christmas instead of a the usual Ferrari - out heart goes out to them.


      All these years they have been running a scam and sustaining their multi-billion dollar livelyhood from it. Now that the CD (and consequently their business model) is dying they are resorting to desperate measures such as DRM rootkits and MPAA's "let's sue some elderly people and some children to scare the crap out of everyone and show them how big our guns are" tactics.

    • Re:Getting Old (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ricdude ( 4163 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @11:23AM (#14279594) Homepage
      According to an estimate from SoundScan, overall sales of recorded music are down about 4.5%, if one considers 10 individual tracks the equivalent of an album.'

      So, they consider it amazing that given the opportunity to buy the three songs on an album that are worth listening to more than twice, consumers are actually taking advantage of such a system? It would be interesting to do the math based on 3 or at best, 5, songs per album, since that's all most people want anyway. We've finally been given a method to bypass album filler content, without, apparently having to subsidise it, and the industry is complaining because the consumer gets what they want.

      Amazing.

      Well, no, not really.

    • Re:Getting Old (Score:5, Informative)

      by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @03:19PM (#14280492) Homepage
      Absolutely.

      I consider myself to be somewhat of a music fanatic, and while my CD collection isn't big, it's not *that* small, either, at about 300 to 400 individual CDs. The number of CDs I bought this year? Two. There simply isn't enough good stuff on the market, and that which *is* good is overpriced, so one of those CDs was bought used on eBay.

      Given the behaviour of the music industry, I'm not surprised they find it hard to sell their crap. Screwing over customers big time (see the recent Sony debacle), treating them as criminals, charging ridiculous amounts for a single album, filling albums with crap so that out of 12 songs, there are maybe two that are really worth listening to, shutting down good and useful services like mp3.com, undermining fair use rights, screwing over bands, suing single mothers and 12-year olds, and artificially narrowing the market to a few "top acts" (not even "bands" anymore!) that all give you the same mass-produced, soulless crap... those are all just symptoms of a fundamental attitude problem that the music industry has, symptoms of a kind of hubris that's pretty much unheard of in any other industry.

      Are they *really* surprised that customers aren't willing to put up with all that crap forever? Contrary to what they're saying, I don't think so; they're just looking for an easy scapegoat, so they just scream "piracy! boohoo!" everytime they lose more customers. But it doesn't matter: until they actually change, they will continue to lose, and unless they eventually change, they will ultimately disappear.

      When I bought my last CD, I got it directly from the band, who were selling their stuff after a concert. I got it signed by all the band members, and I had a nice chit-chat with the singer, too. It still was cheaper than most "mainstream" CDs; I like pretty much every song on it, and I listen to it regularly, as it's clear that the band are not just in it for the money - they are pouring their souls into their music, and it shows.

      When was the last time you could say *that* about the latest Bitchney Spears CD you got for an outrageous sum at the local Wal*Mart?
  • Music Worth Buying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kjkobes ( 898351 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:45AM (#14278615)
    Could it be that the music industry is just putting 40% less desirable music? When it comes to new CDs and artists, there hasn't been all that much growth over the past year.
    • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:15AM (#14278702)
      Could it be that the music industry is just putting 40% less desirable music?

      Prior to iTunes, if you wanted to buy the few good songs on a CD, you had to buy the whole CD. Now you can just buy those few good songs. The drop in sales, I'd bet, is largely affected by people no longer buying the music they really didn't want in the first place.
    • 40% less bling (Score:3, Insightful)

      by green pizza ( 159161 )
      I guess this means the RIAA suits will have to settle for 40% smaller mansions and 40% smaller pools.

      This will eventually trickle down to the artists themselves, many of whom will have to settle for 40% less jewerly and 40% fewer Maybachs.
  • Piracy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jarlsberg ( 643324 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:45AM (#14278616) Journal
    Wow, there's other reasons than "online piracy" that leads to declined sales of music. Heh, it won't be long until RIAA either demands a halt in the sale of high priced gadgets such as the Ipod and the Xbox360, or demands a portion of the income from the sales. ;)
    • They beat you to it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Oldsmobile ( 930596 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:17AM (#14278843) Journal
      In europe in some countries they already levy a "tax" on mp3 player. In Germany I think this is levied on all storage devices, including hard drives. In Finland they currently only levy a tax on CD's and tapes.

      Now is it me, or does this mean that the state has given up its monopoly right to taxation? I remember something about a war taking place due to taxation without representation...
    • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Informative)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @09:09AM (#14279196) Homepage Journal
      Heh, it won't be long until RIAA either demands a halt in the sale of high priced gadgets such as the Ipod... or demands a portion of the income from the sales

      I wouldn't be surprised if it comes to royalties. It's not like it hasn't been done before with blank media.

      However, they'd be stupider than I think they are if they demanded a halt to iPod sales. Legal downloads are the only place where sales are growing. And it's not because people want to pirate iTunes. Consumers don't want much really. They just want to be able to find the music they want, not what the retail store managers think will sell. They want to be able to buy just that music. And they want to be able to play it anywhere.

      Taken to its logical conclusion, this is good for music, but not necessarily good for the companies that are leading in the industry today.

      The logical conclusion is that people will be able to saturate their lives with music. A lot of people are close to the point of needing earbuds surgically implanted anyway. Take those people, multiply their numbers by ten or more, and you have a very happy scenario for producers of music.

      On the other hand, the "music" companies are not producers of music by in large. They're mainly distributors of music. They control the supply chain to the record shops. The have scales of production on physical media. They have muscle with radio airtime. All of these advantages are reduced or nullified by on-line distribution, unless they can control the playback platform (which Microsoft won't allow them to, and Microsoft is a key gatekeeper because it controls the majority of PCs).

      If a day comes when nearly all music is sold on-line, then the reason for the existence of most of the music company's functions are gone. Local entrepreneurs will provide studios and production assistance for an hourly fee, and bands will offer their work directly to the audience through online services. The only irreplaceable value left in the companies are their portfolio of older copyrighted works. They will not be able to add to the value of their portfolio in any significant way, and copyrights ever expire again they'll be in deep trouble. They may be able to buy some copyrights from bands before the bands become successful, but ore and more bands will become independently successful.
  • RIAA Owes Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by themadplasterer ( 931983 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:48AM (#14278627)
    While sales may be down to last year. itunes still provides a way for lazy people to legally download music, where if they had to go to a retail outlet would probably just resort to a P2P. So in fact itunes has increased profits regardless of amount. Don't mistake greed with reality
  • D'uh, Rootkit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Potor ( 658520 ) <farker1NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:48AM (#14278630) Journal
    this timeline also explains the thanksgiving slump [boingboing.net]. funny how tfa does not mention that.
  • I am advocating the violin overthrow of the RIAA through the Revolution of CDs made by non-label groups!
  • Yes, my personally boycott of the RIAA is working. Just a reminded if it's from a label that's in the RIAA, don't buy it.
  • Quality Control (Score:5, Informative)

    by chickenmilkbomb ( 263941 ) <(chickenmilkbomb) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:53AM (#14278642)
    Maybe they should look at the top 10 grossing tours (US) from this year. According to Billboard they are:

    1. U2 ($260M)
    2. The Eagles ($117M)
    3. Neil Diamond ($71M)
    4. Kenny Chesney ($63M)
    5. Sir Paul Mccartney ($60M)
    6. Rod Stewart ($49M)
    7. Elton John ($45.5M)
    8. Dave Matthews Band ($45M)
    9. Jimmy Buffett ($41M)
    10. Green Day ($36.5M)

    Hmm...I'm not sure about Kenny Chesney, but all of the other acts are at least 10 years old. I hate the Eagles as much as the next guy, but the mass marketed music today is Busch League, laughable.
    • Re:Quality Control (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BobPaul ( 710574 )
      Indeed. I haven't purchased any music over the last decade from a group that started durring the last decade. I also haven't downloaded any of that crap, either.

      I want strong, classically trained musicians, not talented singers pulled off the street who think the act of writing music is simple experimenting with what "sounds good." You gotta learn the rules before you can break them, otherwise you're the backstreet boys.
      • Re:Quality Control (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Basje ( 26968 ) <bas@bloemsaat.org> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:18AM (#14278971) Homepage
        This is exactly the problem the record companies are pointing at. The most important group (for them) does not buy music anymore: young people.

        When we were younger we used to buy CD's (or records for that matter). We bought more than our parents. We still buy CD's, but less than we used to. This is known phenomenon: the older one becomes, the less music is bought.

        Youngsters should buy more CD's than us older folk, according to pre internet expectations. That used to be the case. Nowadays, young people don't buy CD's anymore, they download. The older people's acquisitions still make up the tops of the charts.

        The record companies obviously want to reverse this process. The above mention of horse carriages is spot on in that respect.
    • Re:Quality Control (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      Actually, green day is about 15 years old. I do not know Cheney, but the rest are from the 60's,70s i.e. my generation when I was a teen. Scarey.
  • by pkphilip ( 6861 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:53AM (#14278643)
    10 individual tracks sold in itunes cannot be equated to just a single CD album.

    An average CD album will not contain more than two or three good tracks while the rest will be useless. When people buy individual tracks from itunes, they will only go for the better ones and the rest will just not sell. So instead of considering 10 tracks as being equivalent to a single album sale, WSJ should consider 2 or 3 tracks sold on itunes as being equivalent to a single album sale.
    • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:03AM (#14278940) Homepage
      An average CD album will not contain more than two or three good tracks while the rest will be useless.

      Perhaps the problem is that you keep buying average albums instead of above-average albums. I am constantly amazed when people on Slashdot point out how little they appreciate their music. I look at my own collection and I don't have a single album with a hit-rate that low. If I disliked the artist that much I wouldn't have bought the album or the single in the first place. I'll reserve my money for artists that I actually like.

  • by gowen ( 141411 ) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:56AM (#14278653) Homepage Journal
    We got terribly excited by the idea of selecting only a few tracks to put on our iPod. When the excitement died down, we noticed that the music was still shit.
  • Maybe.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SillySnake ( 727102 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @04:56AM (#14278655)
    Perhaps they just lost a file with part of the sales listed in it..
    I think it was named $sys$Sales.txt or something like that..
  • Boycott (Score:2, Insightful)

    Yet no mention of people boycotting them? Surely this has dropped at least 1% or more. If you look at how it's spread, it seems like a slow rot. It started out 1-2% fall "from pirates", then got to nearish 5 and they started to sue people. Then in a year it seems to have doubled..

    I suspect the boycotting may have a coule of percent in this, but they won't admit that. It's "obviously" evil pirates.
  • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:01AM (#14278670)
    This is the market correcting itself. As the stranglehold the labels have over the music market wanes, the proper balance between listeners, artists and labels will be struck. As it is now, the labels wield far too much power. They definitely play a valuable role, and deserve the chance to make a profit, but their current model depends on certain inefficiencies (where they can most significatly exert control) which no longer exist.

    This process of seeking a more equitable equilibrium is too slow, but it's definitely going in the right direction.
  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:15AM (#14278703)
    The WSJ also lists familiar reasons for the decline -- 'online piracy, CD burning, high prices and competition for consumer dollars from videogames and DVDs'

    And of course they (deliberately?) omit the #1 reason:

    shit product

    They'll still blame the #1 reason on piracy though.
    • If you read the actual article, they address this (even using a sh*t-related metaphor):
      "Don VanCleave, president of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, says blame lies with "an absolute, gigantic cesspool of really bad bands.""
    • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:19AM (#14278976)
      And the No2 reason... The CDs won't play in a car because of DRM

      And the No 3 reason... Mummy wont let me play CDs in the computer cos the rootkit trashed it last time!

      • by Forkenhoppen ( 16574 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @10:10AM (#14279338)
        All too true. But I think there's another paradigm at work here.

        If you go back a couple of decades, the radio dial could bring you unprofessional, unpolished stuff along with the produced stuff. You could flip around and hear people performing--horror of horrors--live. It made people actually care about the performers a bit more, to be able to hear their little foibles, agonize with their mistakes, and cheer them on silently from this side of the air waves.

        Now the airwaves are full of stuff that's been produced to completely eliminate any evidence of the production process. Synthesizers, vocoders and digital editing suites have become more responsible than the actual artists for the results. The few cases where this isn't true, any and all evidence of the singers themselves being human (breathing, hitting a note just slightly wrong) have been eliminated to bring up production values.

        Add in the fact that, no matter where you hear it, be it at the grocery store, the dentist's waiting room, the bowling alley or in your car from your personal copy, it'll always be exactly the same song. You never hear the singer do something different. You never hear an extra interlude somewhere in the middle.

        For all you know, the actual song ISN'T reproducible; it was a one-shot thing that the artists are struggling to this day to reproduce even a shadow of.. There's a song on The Killers' album, for instance, that they used their basement-produced tracks of because they couldn't do it as good anymore.

        This is what we're fighting for, really. We need artists who ARE artists, who can step up to a mic, and/or sit down with their instrument, and step up to the challenge of actually honing their craft, improving themselves, striving to give us something new and better with every performance. What you record should just be a sample of what you've got; not the sum total of your repetoire.

        If you look at the classic rock legends, you'll see this holds true. Likewise country music stars like Garth Brooks. Tons of material, they were always working to improve themselves. We remember them, not the one-hit-wonders like Men Without Hats or Right Said Fred. (Yeah, I grew up in the 80s) The key is that the music industry has been rewarding one-hit-wonders for too long, trying to get as much mileage out of them as possible without banking on people who would rather go the distance.

        To make a comparison, it's like today's music industry is trying to make several furbies, tickle-me-elmos and cabbage patch dolls every year, and then scratching their heads wondering why people aren't lapping it up. We need those building blocks, legos and playing cards of the music world. Otherwise everything just looks the same.

        Today's pop music is the new grey.
    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @01:46PM (#14280161) Journal
      Now please don't hang me for using a buzzword but I think it is like that doc on the x-box security problems said. A lot of small security holes wich on their own don't matter can lead to total security failure.

      I think that the decline in music sales is down to a number of small effects that on their own seem harmless but combined have led to this massive fall in sales.

      This is going to be a long ramble so bear with me.

      A number of factors have combined to make us listen to music in a different way and thus reduce the attractivness of buying cd's in your average limited selection store.

      • The way we play our music collection has changed

        People used to play records (for the kids REALLY big black cd's like objects) and because of hardware limitations the music was usually played from the beginning of the album to the end. You needed an advanced record player if you wanted to play albums back to back (playing A and then B side without getting up was extremely difficult).

        If you just wanted to listen to a wide selection of music you either had to record your favorite music to tape and then play the tape (wich until quit recently still forced you to listen in the same order over and over) so the radio was the only way to get a wide selection of music without you after a while being able to predict wich song comes next.

        Now with CD-changers or worse mp3 players people can listen to a large selection of their own choosing with still enough randomness in it that it doesn't get to repetetive. My own collection of mp3's is big enough to last a week without repeating. You can now play your entire collection at random or any order you desire without being limited by hardware.

      • The presentation of music we don't own has changed.

        MTV doesn't play music anymore. Neither does the radio. Oh they get the occasional "promotional sound clip of the week we repeat every hour" in and when the D.J. needs to take bathroom break but mostly it is commercials. Dutch tv has no music program anymore like Countdown or Top of the Pops. Simply put, the programs that used to introduce us to a selection of new music have disappeared. There are alternatives available but they are often to alternative to be accepted on the workfloor. You need something middle of the road, not to extreem not to mundane to play during the 9 hours you are at work.

      • We listen to less music we don't own.

        With the decline in radio a lot of people seem to have decided that an mp3 player is a better way to get a bit of background music. Hookup an mp3 player to the company soundsystem is lot easier then everyone bringing tapes to work. We listen to less and less radio. But if you listen to your own music you will not hear a new artist you might want to buy.

      • The MP3 player is NOT a walkman+

        The walkman still suffered from giving you a very limited music selection in a pre-arranged format. A decent Mp3 player can easily hold a day worth of music. I am sometimes shocked to find that I haven't added a new album in months. This is different from my minidisc player where I would buy new minidiscs now and then or at least regurly record a new collection. I got 20gb of mp3's on my player and frankly I so far don't get bored with it.

      • There is more media to consume

        Finanlly regonized by the music bizz the simple fact that the money that used to buy L.P.'s (other word for the big black cd like things kids) now goes to games and dvd's and my mobile phone etc etc.

      • The new music has a limited appeal

        Of course some people will like the "new" music and some young people have a violent reaction to oldy music BUT the simple fact remains that the newer bands do not have the selling power of the oldies. Just google for top album sales and you will find that the top hasn't changed in years. Worse the newbies that do make an appearance lower down are all of the oldie sort (Shania Twain is hardly pushing the envelope). Or simply put Gan

  • Disposible income is extremely low, music just isn't that high on the priority list this year.
  • Fucking statistics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idimmu Xul ( 204345 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:15AM (#14278706) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    This year, though, there's little Christmas cheer to go around. During the crucial Thanksgiving week, for instance, the top 10 albums sold 40% fewer copies than the top 10 albums the same week in 2004

    All this means is the top 10 albums sold less this year than they did last year, that is not the same as a decline in CD sales or an industry slump.

    If this year only 10 albums were available to buy, from anywhere, this years top 10 whould have had huge sales compared to last years top 10, but I'd be willing to bet there would definatly be less profits than last year.

    Each year more and more CDs are put out and made available to the public. Surely the way to indicate a slump would be to release the total number of CDs sold in that week, or the total profits made by the music industry that week, and compare them.

    For all we know, those same top 10 albums could have had record sales for every other week in the year, and now everyone in the world has a copy, the only people buying them are those that want 2 copies :o

    It seems the music industry/RIAA has just employed some statistics experts to check the numbers and find anything that could be used to indicate a down turn, whether true or not.

  • by Dankling ( 596769 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:16AM (#14278707) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about everybody else, but I like the fact that the huge record companies are making less. Music isn't about making money to anybody who gets into it for the right reason. If these trends continue, we can expect less-corporate-MTV like atmosphere. Look back at the 90's with its anti-corporate grunge phase; I think we could use more of that! If anything, I would love it if these trends produced a culture with more independent music. Maybe the next Ashlee Simpson or Christina Augilara will be able to actually sing???

  • The labels are throwing crap at us. How much X-factor / Pop Idol rubbish are we actually expected to purchase?

    Bring back Genesis! I'd buy 'the lamb lies down on broadway' on any media format they publish it on :o)
  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:18AM (#14278714)
    Recent studies have shown >. Consumers are selecting only the tracks they want in complete disregard of the impact this might have on the income of poor struggling creative musicians. To rectify this injustice, Congress needs to legislate that sales of music online will only be permitted under the same conditions as those of music albums: with unpopular tracks bundled along with their more popular cousins. Only in this way can musical creativity be maintained and further encouraged in this great country of ours.
  • It's been well over two years since I bought an album the RIAA had a hand in, glad it's adding up to something. I also thing the role of satelite radio in eroding music sales is udnerestimated - you can get so specifically what you want, I think many people would rather just pay their 10$ a month because they get everything they want to hear out of it, no commercials, and no format portablity issues - you just plug the unit into your home or car and the satelite brings all the music to you.
  • Good riddance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Starker_Kull ( 896770 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:22AM (#14278730)
    Funny, if I want to blow 20 bucks, I can go to a wide choice of bars and clubs with local acts, pay the cover and get a pair of beers and a couple of hours of entertainment with good company. I might even find a really good band that I never heard of before, and hell, I'd buy an album from them for a few bucks after their set was over.

    If music is great, we don't need a leech-like promoter to tell us so. I'll hear them, or a friend will tell me, or a friend of a friend, they can send me an .mp3, and maybe I'll buy something from them because I like to hear them.

    I just hope in the music companies' death throes they don't drag down our laws with I.P. and DMCA any more than they already have.
  • by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:29AM (#14278743) Journal
    Lately, people in the music industry have said the same basic issues have been intensified by the growing popularity of pricey gadgets like Apple's iPod and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, as well as the rising prices for games that go with the new platform.

    Well, I guess we know who they're going to sue next!
  • by Oldsmobile ( 930596 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @05:35AM (#14278762) Journal
    "Sales of horse drawn carriages have slumped. Horse drawn carriage manufacturers are worried about the increased use of horseless carriages and are hoping to pass legislation making it a requirement for everyone to have a horse infront of their carriage."
    • Dont laugh. This actually happened.

      A law was introduced requiring a person holding a light to walk 15 meters in front of a horseless cariage. This was said to warn pedestrians of the oncomming dangerous contraption. It was really about protecting the horse drawn cariage market beaucse this law destroyed all the advantages that the car introduced.

      Sorry, I couldn't find a reference.
    • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:35AM (#14279119) Journal
      Only instead of a horse, it was a person-

      1865 - Locomotive Act (amended 1878) - restricted the speed of horse-less vehicles to 4mph in open country and 2 mph in towns. Act required three drivers for each vehicle - 2 to travel in the vehicle and one to walk ahead carrying a red flag... - the Red Flag Act.

      1896 - Repeal of 1865 'Red Flag Act' after nearly two decades of strong support from horse interests. Horse-less vehicles now free to travel faster than walking pace! Royal Automobile Club founded. First RAC London to Brighton run held to celebrate the new era of speed. Race was won by Americans who didn't stop for lunch like the rest of the contestants...figures...

      RS

  • An observation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One observation I have made is that the number of people who buy albums is a lot smaller. A lot of people have told me that they don't buy CDs any more because they can just download the music. Young people just don't have a huge collection of CDs the way they used to in the 1990s (replacing the collection of records eveyone had in the 1970s through the 1980s).

    I think there are a number of reasons for that. One of them is plain simple greed on the kid's part (Downloading instead of paying for a CD is a f
  • by Exter-C ( 310390 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:20AM (#14278847) Homepage
    What the music industry wont tell you is that people are getting sick of the same old manufactured artists, boy bands, girl bands and pop groups that really have no tallent and a good PR and marketing campaign. Today the kids are exposed to so many bands / groups and artists that really dont care about the music they just wanted to be famous. Where is the tallent. I know that there are some really great artists emerging but how much air time do they get? And if they do get air time how can the 14 year old girls and boys afford the CDs when the latest Xbox or game has come out. People get sick of having no tallent crap bands and artists. Most of the music when I turn on the radio is just all sooo similar it almost all turns into one big blab blab blab of noise. Its got to the point where I dont listen to the radio any more. I can listen to the music I want online and download the music that I want so that I dont have to listen to the Dj talking garbage about stuff they often know nothing about. The record industry is its own worst enemy. They want the money, they want the PR, but they dont want to premote the artists with the tallent... its all about the beautiful face on the CD cover, and the music clips that have lots of half naked girls dancing sh*t moves. Wake up Record companies are killing themselves. Anyway thats my bitch for the day.. time to move on..
    • What? Consumers are just now getting sick of the manufactured music crapola?

      How is it any different now that it was in the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, etc. ?

      1990s: backstreet boys, britney spears, n'sync
      1980s: menudo, new kids on the block, wham!
      1970s: the village people, the bee gees, kc and the sunshine band
      i could go on and on...
  • by gnarlin ( 696263 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:26AM (#14278859) Homepage Journal
    Dear fellow business persons,
    Since those pirates come to our shores and started to download music instead of attacking ships at sea, our god given profit has since diminished. It has been leeched by these onerous high seas scoundrils! Since they will not stop downloading, and since we have been having a little difficulty in shutting down the internet or purchasing it from its misterious owners we must do the next best thing! Pass laws that enable us to put to sleep, or perhaps just put them to prison, for daring to encrouch upon our livelihood!

    After all, it is unnatural for the profits to go down, despite better ways of transporting content (don't you just love that word). To maintain our profit margin we must further lower the average contractual wages of musicians from around 8% to around five-ish or so. Perhaps lower. After all, those people just keep making music no matter what, so it is a good thing that we take that money which otherwise would be spent on useless things, like morgages, dental insurance or something. Best to keep them on their toes, begging at our doors to sign the contracts that we make up as we go along (after all, there is no such thing as a standard contract in the music industry, but the musicians don't need to know that).

    In closing, I would like to thank our esteemed supporters in the government circles who will be recieving their little purses of joy when their next election comes up.

    Best regards,
    Nates Reficule,
    general manager, Angelic Records inc.

  • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:29AM (#14278865)
    They're, again, blaming "piracy" (on the high seas, Arrrr) for destroying record sales. But how many stockings are filled with "illegally" (not in Canada) downloaded MP3s? Would you consider giving a CD-R full of major record label "artist"'s music to some one as a Christmas gift? Nope, you wouldn't. Because that would be being a cheap ass, and besides, the real article is just a little bit nicer, what with a booklet and all of that marketing crap. So, blaming "piracy" on lower holiday-season sales DOES NOT COMPUTE. Really, they must get tired themselves of always blaming "piracy" (Ra-men).
  • by HermanAB ( 661181 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:41AM (#14278888)
    Well, my teenage son and his friends are copying my CD collection dating back to Buddy Holly (before my birth!) and are simply ignoring the current music offering. As a teen, I would not have been caught dead listening to my dad's ragtime music and I still can't stand 1920-1940s music. So it should be obvious - the current music suck baaaaadly.

    It's the bands stupid...
  • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @07:16AM (#14278964)
    ... new music just sucks. What are people supposed to buy? Jessica Simpson? Ashley Simpson? Madonna's latest reinvention of herself?

    The music industry just cannot find new and interesting and exciting music like they used to. Any musician they produce is so obviously controlled by marketers that they are just lame.

    Even traditionally non-conformist ganres like punk and heavy metal have become lame creations of marketing executives. Example -- Pink.

    So there is another thing the music industry could blame for their troubles -- the fact that their product sucks.

    In fact modern music is so bad i am developing a growing appreciation for classical music.
  • Gee, I wonder why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:07AM (#14279074)
    I wonder when these guys are going to wake up and realize that all this meticulously homogenized top 40 crap is death to the industry.

    That being said... the indie rock scene was GREAT this year. A lot of small local labels in my area did relatively well.

    Perhaps if the record industry would have the balls to highlight stuff like this, they might actually make money.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:11AM (#14279080)
    I have noticed a phenomena not mentioned. Once I ripped my collection, then weeded the collection of the songs I really didn't like, then I had a condensed collection of all my favorite music. Put it on random play and it is like my own private radio station.

    On random I have enough music that I never get sick of my own collection.

    The implication for me: I don't listen to music radio anymore, ever! Think about it, I don't actually hear new music anymore. I have all the music I need. This is what they really need to fear. I notice my friends doing the same as well.

    I do think other factors are crap music, while others discount boycott, I have been on a 3+ year boycott of RIAA now and it will never end. I don't need any more music, so their near monopoly is now dead to me. If I encounter a new band in a small venue that I like, I could by their album straight from them, but the RIAA will never get another penny of my money.

    RIAA has more to fear from the IPOD than from downloads. Big random play collections replace the need for new music once it reaches a critical mass.
    • Guidryp, you're right about random shuffle and large collections. I don't think it's I-pods specifically, however, it's just the "big random play collections" that are the real threat to the music industry.

      While my wife owns an IPod, I do not. But I do maintain our music collection, which has become -- by my standards when I was a teenager -- immense. I've spent 2-3 years digitizing every piece of vinyl and cassette tape I can lay my hands on, including my old not inconsiderable record and CD collection
  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @08:45AM (#14279140) Journal
    Face it ... you can't manufacture art. The music coming out of the pop-formula organ grinders hasn't been worth buying lately. Both my teenage daughters are telling me they prefer music from one or several decades ago, so it's not just my aging tastes.

    If the music isn't any good, people won't buy it, and there will be a downturn in the music industry. Duh.

    The most important component in any sound system is the human ear -- everything else is fluff. Get the content compatible with that element first, and there will be an upturn in the music industry. Whether they deserve it or not.
  • by hazee ( 728152 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @09:37AM (#14279262)
    I don't know about others, but one reason I'm buying less music than I used to, is because I absolutely refuse to buy a "CD" with copy protection on it.

    Given that more and more CDs are being crippled by this, I find myself putting more and more of them back on the shop shelf.

    As far as I'm concerned, the music industry is cutting off its nose to spite its face.
  • by Prototerm ( 762512 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @10:19AM (#14279375)
    Sometime in the 60's, record album sales began to increase, as people realised that most of the songs on a popular group's albums were being released as singles (on the smaller 45 RPM records). I remember quite a bit of discussion in the industry about this, and the record companies began pushing the sales of whole albums on pop recordings. I believe previously, only a few types of music sold whole albums in any number. Classical music comes to mind.

    Groups like the Beatles were particularly consistent in their output, and their albums sold a lot of copies, even without a lot of hits on them (many of the hits were only put on albums later on). The question I and my friends had back then was should we buy just the singles we liked, or the whole album. After a while, we learned that many of those albums were well worth the added cost.

    I believe those days are now over. The CD's that are currently available just don't have enough good music on them. The available of singles through services like iTunes and others will erode what little popularity the CD has left.

    The current music industry is based on a short-lived phenomenon (people buying whole albums/CD's) that peaked years ago. In a way, the industry realises this, and wants to make more money on each single, knowing the whole album will probably not sell enough copies to maintain profits. The market is going back to normal behavior, and this means the industry will be forced back into a 1950's model, when singles ruled, and radio (including now Internet) broadcasts the key tool to selling those singles. The artist as well as the customer have both changed too much in the last decade or so to maintain the old business model.

    It's not about piracy, it's about the product and the customer, just like it's always been.
  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @10:53AM (#14279495)
    I'm shocked and a bit disgusted that there's no mention of the fact that we were paying $3+ a gallon for gas, healthcare costs continue to spiral, and employment is mediocre. The middle class is getting the shit squeezed out of it. This is the 'new good old days'. Who has an extra $30 to blow on a couple Black Eyed Peas CD's? Music is a luxury - you can't eat it or get to work on it. If you get it for free out the radio or by copying a friend's collection, fine. But this attitude of entitlement and head-scratching by record co's is bizarre and ridiculous.

    If I were they, I'd be hard at work pricing CD's for the Chinese and Indians, and making pop music for them. They're the future.
  • by rspress ( 623984 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @11:09AM (#14279549) Homepage
    I find it amazing that the music industry has to blame piracy first and foremost as a cause of declining sales. It should be clear to anyone that if they are using payola to push records by J-lo and the Dixie Chicks is that these records suck.

    The are facing the same problem that the American automobile industry did in the 70's. The are making a crappy product that nobody wants and are in denial. The are slow to adopt new business models that their customers want. Why release a 10-12 song CD when the artist can only write 1 or 2 good songs? They may claim file sharing as the main cause as it is the easiest to try and stop. It is very easy to have the feds and courts do the dirty work for them. It is much harder for them to stop the main cause of piracy, that of people selling knock-off products. Besides the mobs of several countries are involved in that business and it would mean getting their hands dirty in trying to stop it. It is easier to go after the consumers.

    Most of the iPod owners I know, including myself, have stopped using file sharing services and now buy our music from the iTunes Music Store. I use iTunes podcasting feature more than anything else these days. It is more cutting edge than the music groups put out these days. The few tunes that I don't buy on iTunes are given away free by unsigned groups who want the airplay and have not signed a deal with the evil record companies.

    As far as these artist claiming they did not know that their companies were doing the payola thing.....please, if you are that ignorant of where your money goes you should not be in the business. They knew payola was going on as spending money to get spins puts more money in their pockets in the long run.
  • This isn't a surprise...

    The Billboard 200 Album Chart [billboard.com] shows us the current top 10 consists of:

    1. Eminem: Curtain Call--The Hits
    2. Lil' Wayne: Carter II
    3. Korn: See You on the Other Side
    4. Various Artists: Now 20
    5. Carrie Underwood: Some Hearts
    6. Kenny Chesney: The Road and the Radio
    7. Nickelback: All the Right Reasons
    8. Mariah Carey: The Emancipation of Mimi
    9. Black Eyed Peas: Monkey Business
    10. Enya: Amarantine

    ..it doesn't suprise me that they're not selling as much as last year, especially when you consider how high fuel prices are, and how talentless the groups on the top 10 are... Think about this: CDs are discretionary purchases... Gasoline is still 40 cents per gallon higher than last year--about 12% higher than the previous year.

    • and it was better 15 years ago?

      1 - Vanilla Ice - To The Extreme
      2 - M.C. Hammer Please Hammer Don t Hurt Em
      3 - Madonna - The Immaculate Collection
      4 - Whitney Houston - I m Your Baby Tonight
      5 - Mariah Carey - Mariah Carey
      6 - Paul Simon - Rhythm Of The Saints
      7 - Bette Midler - Some People s Lives
      8 - Wilson Phillips - Wilson Phillips
      9 - AC/DC - The Razors Edge
      10 - George Michael - Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1

      Ice Ice, baby!!! :)
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) * on Saturday December 17, 2005 @01:26PM (#14280090) Homepage
    "the top 10 albums sold 40% fewer copies than the top 10 albums the same week in 2004."

    This statistic taken alone is meaningless. Depending what's happening along the rest of the curve it can mean that sales have slowed, or it can mean that people are buying a more diverse set of music.

    Most of the problems listeners cite IRT the music industry center around labels hyperpromoting a few bands at the expense of thousands of others who get no airplay or in-store marketing. When the top 10 account for a smaller proportion of sales it means that the power curve is flattening a little and people are thinking a bit more for themselves instead of buying what big media tells them to.

    And this is bad how?
  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @01:40PM (#14280138) Homepage Journal
    Everyone seems to be going on and on about why music sucks, etc... or RIAA or whatever... but here's the real reason:

    Gift Certificates. People buy music as gifts during this period of time right? With the availability of Amazon GCs and iTunes GCs don't you think that maybe just maybe people are getting those instead of trying to guess what music their gift recipients really want???

    Let's take a look at music sales just after Christmas... say the week after, and see how much it is up compared with 2004.

    I'm betting it will be higher... probably high enough to overcome any 'slump' seen during november and december.

  • by Art_Vandelai ( 596101 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @01:59PM (#14280201)
    If you read the article, you'll note that they're only looking at the Top 10. They're not comparing overall music sales.

    I think overall, top 10 format radio is down from prior years. as people decide to listen to the music on their iPods, or satellite radio, which offers a lot more variety than can be found in the Top 10. Also witness the populatiry of stations like "Jack FM" which play a varied playlist instead of the same 20-30 songs over and over again. People are listening to more music, and for the most part, better music than what can be found on the charts.

    I've also noticed that the back catalog has become cheaper, you can get some decent albums from the last 10 years for the price of $9.99 (Canadian) or thorough 2 for $20 deals at most CD shops, which works out to about 8 and a half bucks U.S, cheaper even than used CD's sometimes. This has cannibalized from marginal releases - I'd rather wait until it goes in the bargain bin in a few months, and get the chance to become more familiar with other songs on the CD before buying.

  • by Mr_Huber ( 160160 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @02:04PM (#14280212) Homepage
    It typically costs more for the soundtrack to a movie than the DVD of the movie itself. Particularly after both have been on shelves for six months or so. The music industry continues to overcharge for their product and then sue it's own customers when they bypass those costs.
  • by twigles ( 756194 ) on Saturday December 17, 2005 @06:24PM (#14281300)
    Has anyone thought that declining sales of CDs might be tied to a general trend in wealth distribution? Specifically that as wealth becomes more concentrated in the US (not sure what the trends are in EU, Japan and other traditional CD consumers), there is less disposable income for most of the populace to throw away on CDs?

    Just a thought, not even a theory.

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