For the second time in history, music sales have collapsed by 90%

From the end of the Great War until the Crash of ’29, record sales increased year after year after year. But when the Depression hit, sales of recorded music collapsed by a staggering 95%,

In 1930, 100 million records were sold in the U.S. By 1932, that number dropped to 6 million.

We’ve seen a similar thing since 2000. CD sales reached a peak that year, moving 943 million units in America. In 2017, that number had fallen to about 90 million.

Statista illustrates this collapse nicely.

We’ve seen something similar here in Canada. The industry will be lucky to move 9 million CDs in 2018.

Then again, this really doesn’t matter. Record labels are making far more money from streaming than they do from physical sales. Back in the 1930s, all we had was physical sales, so that collapse was far, far more catastrophic.

Still. fascinating, not?



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “For the second time in history, music sales have collapsed by 90%

  • February 17, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    what about Yacht Rock albums?….they must have skyrocketed by 90% ….but maybe thats just my own personal buying trend…. 😉


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