Album sales: 2000 – 2008

Now THATS an album!Every year it seems that we talk about the decline in CD sales. Those numbers are, themselves, troubling for those attempting to make a living selling music on CDs. The overall number for music sales, aren’t much better.

The decline in CD sales seems to be around 20% annually. Digital download sales have taken off in a big way, Soundscan reported more than one billion a-la-carte downloads for 2008. These numbers just aren’t making up for the decline in physical product sales though.

Digital Music News reported yesterday that Album Sales (both physical and digital combined) has dropped a staggering 54.5% since 2000.

Just how bad is the recording industry decline? Since peak year 2000, US-based album sales have dropped an unbelievable 514.6 million units, or 54.6 percent. In 2000, the climax of a dreamlike 90s, album sales surpassed 943 million units, according to figures published by Nielsen Soundscan…

…Overall, album sales in 2008 (both digital and physical) landed at 428.4 million, also according to Nielsen.

While some blame can be laid at the feet of illegal downloading, I think a bigger factor is the unbundling of music. Why buy the entire album if there are only 4 songs you really want?

I don’t think the effect has been as pronounced on our little corner of the industry, but the decline has hit bluegrass.

My suggestions for now? I offer only two…

  1. Make sure every song is one your fans will want to own.
  2. Free your mind from slavish dedication to the “album” (or CD) format.