Last Week's Album Sales Were Lowest in History, Labels Blame Streaming

"Sales have been going in the wrong direction all year," label representative adds.

Ultimate Guitar

Last week, 3.97 million albums were sold in the US, officially marking an all-time low since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991.

As Billboard reports, the week's top-selling effort, "Blacc Hollywood" by Wiz Khalifa, sold merely 90,000 units.

Last year, the week ending August 25, 2013 brought in 4.88 million sold records, only proving that album sales are continuing to drop. However, label reps are not surprised with the latest stats, and are pointing out that streaming is to blame.

"Sales have been going in the wrong direction all year. I guess its overdue, when you look at [the growth of streaming]," a label representative noted, reluctantly admitting that "streaming is cannibalizing digital sales."

"What can I say about this week's sales," another distribution sales executive lamented. "I remember when album sales fell under 10 million units and the industry reacted like it was a tragedy."

And although certain major label executives claim that the increasing streaming revenue is offsetting declining digital sales revenue, indie representatives seem to disagree. "This year the bottom fell out of digital sales to a degree that we never anticipated, which is why many companies are not meeting this year's revenue projections," stated one indie distribution executive.

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    When the top-selling effort is Wiz Khalifa, I think it says something about the industry and labels in general.
    Niggaz like yo be scared of them thangs like the charts, but 'em hoes ain't when they ridin' my cars. Wait, did I just write one of his verses?
    Older purchasing method losing commonality, industry blames new more popular medium.
    this is just the horse breeder bitching about the combustion engine getting them out of business
    Thank you! I was searching for an example like that a few days back. Makes me think, this kind of blaming happens way too often...
    In other news, Typewriter sales have plummeted in the past several years: the company sold less than 800 machines in 2010, down from the 50,000 it produced every year in the 1990s.
    well no people dont have to buy a whole album if they only like one song. they can just go buy one song on the album from itunes.
    Spotify etc will be more crippling to the industry than piracy. Anyone can now have a music collection in the palm of their hand that can match Elton John's massive personal collection! (though I think he's sold some of it off nowadays) All this for $000!!!! (it's free on a lot of mobile phone plans here in New Zealand)
    I don't think it's anything to do with a recession, really just makes no sense to purchase when you can listen to Spotify or Pandora for free all day unless it's one of your top artists. I'm someone who used to purchase 15-20 physical albums each year for close to 15 years. Now in the last two years I've bought maybe 6 total. Pandora was one thing being a shuffle streaming service but Spotify giving the ability to listen to full albums and choose any songs for nothing-$10/month is brutal for sales. Bottom line: There's always a new thing that comes along and hurts the music industry but the labels always find a way to monetize whatever that new thing is over time. They'll be AIGHHTT.
    To answer the UG facebook question: I've always bought physical albums and always will, no matter what the trends are...
    I blame the industry for trying to milk out one hit wonders, then a band/artist who can make quality music that isn't hidden in the shadows. I have no problem buying music (even physical CD's , I have like 70 of them) if it wasn't as hard to find CD's and it they would actually be good apart from a couple of songs.
    The one-hit wonder thing has always been a part of the industry since the promotion of the single has always been too. The singles used to even not be part of the actual album, which could've resulted in even less incentive to buy the full record.
    Floyd Phoenix
    Just as long as they don't drop low enough for physical albums to become rare and expensive I really don't care.
    Maybe if people made ****ing actual music
    People ARE making "****ing actual music" but major labels and those with access to massive marketing networks don't care for stuff you and I would consider decent. It's a masssive ****ing shame. I kinda like hearing albums where it's still organic and you can tell they've not been produced to hell and back though
    Well I did my part last week, bought 6 CD' was from Ebay though. I don't know why anyone is surprised by this though.
    Mud Martian
    Time to get with the times. Listening to full albums is something that has slowly gone out of style since the '90s. People want the hit singles, and they can get them through any streaming service or for a few cents on iTunes, and many other places. Just give up. Nobody's gonna shell out money for a full album nowadays unless they're dumb or a hardcore fan of someone.
    I do still buy cd's. It's a shame that physical music is dying. It's easy to see and understand why but still. Owning physical copy is always better option in my eyes.
    Yesterday I paid for a single song. Probably only done it 3-5 times. Otherwise I buy the album. That song was Clouds by The Hush Now.
    Meanwhile, independent artists are not making any more or less than they normally would have. Maybe your label's pop acts just aren't garnering the kind of support you want?
    screw you labels. if i want to support a band, i'll go check out their shows. that's where bands make their actual money, everything else goes to the label(except for a VERY small sales percentage going to artists after everything is paid out in its production). how does it feel having the tables turned?
    If people are going to factor in music to their monthly budget, make it buying a new album every month. Make your money go to the people you actually want it to go to you sick freaks
    lol, this is funny to me. I dont give a shit about record labels. They killed music anyway...