I want you to take a look at the following three numbers: 115,000, 250,000 and 110.
What’s so great about them? Well according to the Chicago Tribune they paint a dreadful picture for this game we call the music business.
About 115,000 albums came out last year.
Only 110 sold 250,000 copies or more.
Sure you have to account for the amount of no name junk that drops between bigger releases. In addition, the article doesn’t specify if these numbers account for digital copies from iTunes and other similar e-music stores. Regardless, there’s no way you can positively spin these figures as far less than one percent of records sold went hood platinum. Adding further perspective the article goes on to state that “a mere 1,500 topped 10,000 sales, and fewer than 6,000 cracked the 1,000 barrier — further evidence that sales of recorded music are not the way of the future for artists. “
It’s evident that suits and artists alike aren’t making bread off albums sold at retail. If anything, there’s no better time than now to hand out 360 deals as diminishing profit margins are the today’s paradigm. So what will the music industry look like from here on out?
I don’t have a crystal ball. However, it appears the current business model for albums is leaning towards ad based promotions alongside products and services. Moreover, try before you buy LPs with commercial breaks online have developed in an attempt to hook audiences.
Music has been used alongside promos for years. Just look at Smirnoff, Doublemint Gum, NBA Live and AT&T if you don’t believe me. Some of the aforementioned campaigns give away the songs featured in the advertisements. Hell you can hear albums for free on sites like Imeem and Myspace with ads between the tracks. They’re not ideal listening experiences as your jam session will get a brief interruption by Doritos every now and then. But all things considered, you’ll get to hear the album in its entirety, some LPS get good traffic and the label gets a cut. Yet, that cut is pretty insignificant and is barely worth the time and money it takes to keep it available to users.
It doesn’t take Miss Cleo-like clairvoyance to see that bricks and mortar road is a dead end. Nevertheless record companies can’t catch a fair one online either. So what’s next for the likes of Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI? It makes me wonder how long they can run on fumes as Steve Jobs and co. cruise by with a full tank.