Yes, Album Sales Continue to Collapse–in America, Anyway

Last year was a bad one for album sales in the US.  While Canada will finish the year down 6% or so over 2013, the situation is much worse in the US.  As I mentioned in my weekly music sales report the other day, American sales were 11% lower in 2014 than they were in 2013.  But this is only a small part of the story.

In the last ten years, US album sales have fallen by 61.5%, from 667 million units down to just 257 million.

Yes, but digital sales have made up for that, right?  Nope.  Digital album sales declined for the second year in a row, dropping from 118 million two years ago to 106.5 million at the end of 2014.

It gets even worse when you look at CD sales. In 2004–back in the days we were told that piracy was killing the music industry–651 million CDs were sold.  Ten years later, that number is 141 million–a drop of 78%.

So what’s the reason behind these precipitous drops?  No DRM on digital tracks which allows for free and easy sharing.  The a la carte mentality of iTunes (Why buy the full album when you can buy just the track you want?) The rise of streaming music services.  People content with the sound quality of YouTube rips.  Music has become so easy to access and has become so cheap (if not free) that there’s no value proposition in buying it anymore.  Why bother?

If you want to see some charts that really bring this story home, head over to Music Business Worldwide. (Via Tom)


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.

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