Tuesday, March 30, 2004

So what is killing CD sales?

Amidst news reports like this one on News.com that cites a study showing that file sharing has negligible or no effect on CD sales, people (especially record companies) have to wonder what it is that's killing CD sales.

From the News.com article:
"Even in the most pessimistic version of their model, they found that it would take about 5,000 downloads to displace sales of just one physical CD, the authors wrote. Despite the huge scale of downloading worldwide, that would be only a tiny contribution to the overall slide in album sales over the past several years, they said."

If this study is correct, then what is the real reason that CD sales are slumping? Record companies would be quick to point at economic factors and increased competition for disposable income from video games and DVD's. Both arguments from the record companies are valid, but what if the real reason was just that the kids, the people that buy CD's, just don't like the new music?

Here's the headline from USA Today: Kids are listening to their parents Their parents' music, that is. What an interesting phenomenon. But if you think about it, buying a full CD used to get you several good songs along with the chart-topping radio hits. These days, consumers are lucky to find anything as good or better than any given bands' single on the CD, which, of course, leads to the consumer only wanting to own the single song rather than the whole album.

Don't believe it? Ok, let's look at who is touring and raking in the dough. A quick visit to Pollstar will give you schedules for all of the venues in your area. Chances are you will find some festivals with a lot of current bands (and when I say a lot, I mean a whole lot, like 15-30) and you will find a lot of names you may not expect. Some of the top-grossing tours over the past few years have not been new bands: Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith . . . Take a look at the summer schedule in your town and you will most likely see some of the bands I just mentioned along with Styx, REO Speedwagon, Jimmy Buffett, Poison . . . all names that you (depending on your age) or your parents listened to.

How convenient for record companies to be able to blame sliding CD sales on filesharing to mask the fact that they are not developing good new talent to replace classic artists as these artists get too old to tour.

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