Music Sales Continuing to Fall in 2014, All Formats Plunge 15 Percent

Both physical and digital releases score double-figure losses, report confirms.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
0

Music sales are continuing their plunge during 2014, as all formats have scored a nearly 15% sale loss during the first six months of the current year.

According to the official Nielsen SoundScan data, total music sales until June 29 have gone from 142 million to 121 million, Variety reports.

Furthermore, digital track sales dropped 13% to 593.6 million, taking a dive from 682.2 million sold during the same period in 2013.

As for the streaming industry, the figures have gone up from 49.5 million streams to 70.3 million. However, streaming revenues take up only a small fragment of the big picture.

Vinyl sales have gone up once again, jumping from 2.9 million to 4 million, hence scoring a 40% rise.

When it comes to specific albums, the soundtrack to Disney's "Frozen" is the only record to sell over one million units, shipping a total of 2.7 million so far, beating the likes of Beyonce's self-titled collection (702,000), Eric Church's "The Outsiders" (642,000), Lorde's "Pure Heroine" (641,000), and Coldplay's "Ghost Stories" (589,000).

In the singles domain, Pharrell's "Happy" is No. 1 thus far with 5.6 million copies sold. The catchy tune is followed by Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" (4 million), John Legend's "All of Me" (3.8 million), Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" (3.6 million) and "Frozen" vocalist Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" (2.8 million).

77 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Shredder666
    I bought so many CDs this year. Guess I'm a dying breed. I remember roughly 10 years ago, I was in high school, and me and my friend would make a weekly trip to the music store to either listen to new music, or purchase a new CD. Everything about having the CD in your hands, unwrapping that stubborn plastic, taking out the disc for the first time, smelling the new booklet, reading the booklet.. made the whole experience so fulfilling. The new generation of kids is trained to access information in the most efficient way possible. Unfortunately, music is just that, 1's and 0's stored into a data file. Kids don't appreciate music and don't buy music anymore because the magic of buying albums is a thing of the past. I also think a lot of people my age and older began buying off iTunes, but to me that killed the music industry. There's nothing more special to buying an mp3 than torrenting the same mp3 for free, so people began torrenting music. This is also the reason why vinyl sales have increased; it's more special for the people who appreciate that kind of stuff. This is all entirely my opinion, but I think it's plausible. No?
    Domguy99
    You're not alone, dude. I still go out and buy all my music, in a album form. It's way more satisfying to go and buy an album (and the art typically involved) than to buy an mp3 of it.
    Kueller917
    You're right about vinyl since it's normally the "special package". Nothing too wrong with digital though. In the end you buy a CD for the difference of some mass produced plastic. I'd say part of the reason the "magic" of buying an album has suffered is due to the industry being very stubborn to adapting to new methods. More often I see the self-releasing bands being creative and actually trying to utilize the album release in the purely digital world.
    liiiam
    Also if you're gonna buy a new album, it generally costs about £10 on iTunes, if you buy it on vinyl you usually get a digital copy plus the lp for about £15, it's actually more cost effective
    the_who
    All formats PLUNGE but vinyl sales scores a 40% rise? Am I not understanding this correctly?
    RC52190
    You aren't. Way less people buy vinyl so when there's a retro revival (of anything), there are already so few people buying that thing prior to the revival, that it's pretty easy for the sales to have a dramatic rise. There are already so many people buying more modern formats that it's just more likely that some of them will drop off after a while as the format starts to lose popularity, as opposed to vinyl gaining popularity in the last couple years.
    blackone666
    *IMO* People don't respect value of music. Mainstream music (Synthpop EDM) has become a sexualized joke for not-so-smart people. The DJ (put a cd, coke, meth, repeat) thing didn't help much to add some respect to the music thing. Metal-rock-punk has become STALE (let's be fair, the toothless guy from Mastodon won't renew anything) Classical-jazz-blues, bluegrass, folk etc often receives this reaction: "Man this is what my granny listens, you suck" YAY, I'm awaiting your downvotes, guys!
    jono888
    You get an upvote from me. I agree completely that very little music released this year has interested me at all. Let's also remember, the economy still sucks. I don't think i've ever had less disposable income than I do currently
    bobmarley_fan
    The big thing are that there are no longer bands that take risks in their musical endeavors. Labels want the bands they sign to sound like other popular bands. When you think of Led Zeppelin or Queen they stood by their creativity and would not be told what type of music they could, or could not, play. Neither band got shoehorned into a certain genre and made some of the most amazing, and memorable songs...Nay, ANTHEMS. Everything is about genres now so that bands can be "marketed and sold"
    --ESTRANGED--
    the thing is with "EDM" it's a genre hat relies heavily on technology and if you haven't been living under a rock all your life, you'll know technology advances at a massive pace. This gives EDM the chance to expand. Plus how many sounds can you get out of a synthesizer/VST? Millions. Then add effects. It's never ending. Sure, your point about DJ culture is relevant, but there are guys out there who deserve more respect. Noisia, they're innovators within their respected genre. Then on the other hand you have guitar-based music, which (in all due respect) hasn't really got the space to advance in the same way. Sure, you can mess with time signatures and other funky things, but at the end of the day, Joe Public wont listen to anything other than 4/4
    entropicxdisson
    that's why Tool's albums almost always top the charts when they come out, the public will listen to something other than 4/4 (Dark Side of the Moon spent how long on the charts?) The problem is the indie scene thrives on simplicity and metal can be "metal" with out screams, and screams and growls are one thing the public will never acquire a taste for.
    Rattlehead90
    Actually Metal is not so stale as you might think. It's just that old sub-genres(NWOBHM and even thrash) are not so popular anymore. Brutal and technical Death Metal is on the rise. Metal has always been about Underground. But I agree with everything else!
    stoltobot
    What is Brutal and Technical Death Metal? Back in my day if it wasn't brutal and technical it couldn't be death metal.
    Rattlehead90
    It's just more brutal and more technical
    Wisthler
    Actually thrash is kinda becoming popular again thanks to your good friends Evile and Havok, among others.
    qrEE
    Wisthler you're pretty wrong actually. Thrash Metal has been at a heavy decline. I lived in the Thrash Metal revival scene that started in 2007ish. It died around 2011. Vektor, Evile, Havok, Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust survived, but for every success story there were 50 failures. I played shows with some of those failures too. Exmortus made a last second jump out at the last second and they're probably the last band of the scene who will get any attention for a while. All power to them they are great musicians.
    blackone666
    Of course, I'm a huge BM - DM fan myself, as you can tell by looking at my avatar haha. The diversity is thriving in the underground, even outside the metal scene. As a fitting example you have Igorrr & Venetian Snares carrying the electro/classical-flag!
    bobmarley_fan
    I want to add if I was a music scout I would look for a talented band that I could hire a producer for to help them refine and polish "THEIR" sound, not hire a producer to help change their sound. That is what is the problem with larger record labels, and it is coming back to bite them in their A$$ <
    Juice Face
    I might be alone in this opinion, but I feel like, to a large majority of people, music is not really about music anymore. It's becoming just a method of socially grouping people so they know who to avoid or associate with based on what they're listening to. Kind of like how animal packs use distinct noises to ward each other off.
    Rastapunk
    I've actually never as much albums as I did lately! The music industry is so much different now, people aren't willing to throw 20 euros for a new release they haven't heard, they will either download it or if the band has made it possible, stream it online (which is a great move from the artist's side!).
    Eissari
    In short: People don't respect value of music.
    Eirien
    Music has no inherent value; it's subjective on the part of the listener.
    Robfreitag
    The same can be said for nearly everything, except human life, apart from that, all values which we give to things are subjective and based on supply and demand, not an inherent value.
    Dynamight
    Completely false. Food, fuel, land, and many other physical goods have inherent value. Supply and demand doesn't change that fact.
    Panasonic3
    supply and demand have governed everything so far in human history. "with, without. and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about."
    K33nbl4d3
    What a cute idea. It's not like bands have any costs or anything, is it?
    K33nbl4d3
    Yeah okay, so this wasn't exactly the right context for that comment. But concerning buying music it has to be seen as a product. That is, if a song's just a song, a recording of that song - illegal or legal - had measurable inputs in terms of time and money. Likewise a band or musician has to be seen as a business because, whatever they're in it for, they have to be able to keep up doing music. The sad thing is, though some do it less than others, there isn't really a medium at the moment that doesn't rip off artists. If they're on a record label they're getting nothing for CDs and next-to-nothing for streamed songs, and if they're not on a label they're spending so much on recording that they might as well be getting nothing.
    crazysam23_Atax
    And music still has no inherent value. The work put into creating said music has certain value, and that's why we pay for songs and albums.
    qrEE
    My band has used our own money to pay for equipment to record our albums with, and we're not expecting to pay that money back. Basically, we have our own little studio now and we can record whatever we want whenever we want now, and so our plan is to pump out recordings and sell them and the profits will all go directly to us. Most bands go to studios to record, but the bands who create their own studios are the ones most likely to make some money for their efforts. That said our "studio" is just a mixer and mics and Cubase inside of our drummer's house.
    Panasonic3
    in my band, we give out free cds all the time, and i'm way behind on my bills. any money we actually get paid for gigs/merch we put in the gas tank first then into the "band fund" for buying new stuff. sometimes we throw our own hard-earned money into the pot. its a slow process, but we all have jobs and go to school. we are writing our first album now (almost done )! we are patient and we keep getting better and better shows with influential bands to us. long story short, we don't expect much for our musical endeavor. maybe someday i could hope to feed and house myself from it, but we make no assumptions. i just want people to hear my music and then know what i'm trying to say. if their going to bang their heads along the way then METAL
    Rastapunk
    Nothing to do with that, they just don't spend 20 euros blinbdlessly for an album they haven't heard before. Hence why streams are welcome. If I like the album, I'll buy it! Next one for me is the lates Corrosion of Conformity. A Doom/Sludge fest!
    champbassist
    Exactly. I'm from a place far away from US and am in the process of buying such albums that I've grown to love, which I finally can just about afford to get imported (with a new job). Even if they cost me a bomb - most imported CDs equate to about US$40 - I get them if I know I like them.
    mrsuns10
    Sad but true music is slowly becoming a lost art
    daginger
    not lost but spread very thin across a piece of toast. a lot of people are making music so there is a lot to choose. not lost but deluded
    Lord_Doku
    From what I know, it wasn't different at all in the past. People would go to record stores and play the LPs to see if it's worth the cash. It's not a new trend.
    dan0z
    So... vinyl is not classed as a music format then?? This article is a complete brain fart.
    Cheesepuff
    In the singles domain, Pharrell's "Happy" is No. 1 thus far with 5.6 million copies sold. The catchy tune is followed by Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" (4 million), John Legend's "All of Me" (3.8 million), Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" (3.6 million) and "Frozen" vocalist Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" (2.8 million). the problem i think is that pop music is pretty bad this year
    mrsuns10
    Sadly I dont think people my age care for music anymore. I know a lot of people who listen to music that sounds like Transformers having Sex and its really not music .
    Kueller917
    You really think only little kids are obsessed with Frozen?
    link no1
    Practically everybody is obsessed with Frozen. I honestly don't understand why either. It's the worst animated Disney film I've seen and the soundtrack is average at best.
    Lord_Doku
    I don't get it either. Maybe it's because it's the first Disney flick in a long time to portray women, rather than men, as the strong and independant main characters. Other than that (and all men being evil), it feels just like a remake of The Lion King; proud kingdom, father-daughter speech, royal outcasts, song about letting go (hakuna matata) and the imminent quest for redemption. But I guess we all have different tastes.
    champbassist
    "it's the first Disney flick in a long time to portray women, rather than men, as the strong and independant main characters" Umm... Brave ?
    mrsuns10
    Every girl in my cohort loves that movie and I dont see why the music is awful.
    Jyuuga
    Well, while the story line is decent like somebody else said, the soundtrack rehashes ideas like the C G Am F progression a little too much imo. It's decent, but a film like the Wind Rises deserves more attention than Frozen. *flameshield up*
    Kueller917
    I have yet to actually watch it but I do know the obsession is huge. I also do not know why my comment did not indent under the previous one even though it was a reply.
    BuriedAlive7x
    The Frozen soundtrack? WTF is that really on the top? like an original score ...or various artists collection. unbelievable.
    RC52190
    Where are all these 6 year olds finding all this money?!
    mrsuns10
    Its not just 6 year olds but 20 year old girls as well. they are always singing Frozen whenever I'm around
    SccMaye
    yeah, the industry isn't the same as it was a long time ago in a galaxy faaaaar faaaaar away, i mean nows days its like its a good thing to stream the album for free, and for underground bands i think thats the best way to be heard, my band just released our debut album on sound cloud for free download, please check it out if you have time, heres the link https://soundcloud.com/santa-cruz-contro...
    AccountAttempt4
    Which country is this in? In Sweden, where spotify has the highest percentage of paid users, sales have been going up.
    derpdragon
    I have a question about this. Sure all formats are down, but what about the genres themselves? It could be that John Doe and Jane Doe simply just don't care about music anymore so the mass population that listens to top 100's are down while less popular underground is rising but just not as fast as the 100's are falling. The fact that vinyl is on a rise could possibly mean this as the people who like underground music generally tend to like vinyl format. Of course correlation does not imply causation. It's all just a hypothesis.
    filipe26
    Not just a hypothesis, it's the truth. I would never pirate or download a Keith Merrow album for instance. Plus, for the ones i download from these type of small bands, i will surely buy in the future. Either way i don't think it's wrong for pop albums to be downloaded through piracy, these type of fan know their artists couldn't care less about them.
    Panasonic3
    Economy is bad. The poor get poorer and the rich continue to bogart that shit. Vinyl is up!! That's because it's real! Reality is on a popular upswing (as opposed to consumerist delusion). This is actually good news to my ears.
    markyj666
    Music sales are down because you can listen to music for free - legally (spotify for example). I've bought every Mastodon album they have ever released apart from the latest one....why? Because I discovered I can listen to it for free so I don't need to buy it. Simple
    Guitarus Rex
    Hmm... I just bought three double CDs last week. Led Zep I, II and III (deluxe), all remastered and packaged with a companion disc of bonus material. Mad love goes out to Jimmy Page for putting together something for the fans who still buy the music. If you're a Zep fan, it's a no-brainer. They were only $12.99 each! What a bargain!
    yogosan
    So rich people aren't as rich anymore. Great! The majority of artists have always struggled due to the strangle hold the music industry has had over the last few decades. The quality of music won't drop. It might just mean that instead of U2 making a tonne of money playing in a stadium, your local musician will make more money playing in a pub. Putting a price on art is such a stupid thing. Some of the greatest poets, writers and musicians hardly made a penny. It is time for change. I have no sympathy for people who will now fail to become rich and famous.
    qrEE
    I know this will never work, but I think society should re-define what it means to be a "fan" of someone's work by forcing the definition to include having at LEAST one physical release from the band. I mean it'd be great if everybody bought every album they wanted to hear but if they won't do that, we should make sure that if you like the band, you buy AT LEAST ONE album of theirs in a physical format. Just as a matter of repaying the artist. And as I always stress, buying a T-shirt and seeing them live is the ultimate way to repay artists.
    jekylhyde
    After a few dry years, I've started to buy music again. From iTunes mostly. I don't care for cd's anymore. I do buy a few cd's per year, but I like digital music, cause storing it is so easy and it doesn't take as much space as cd's or vinyls. Plus I already have those important and favorite albums on cd, so I have no need to really buy that many physical albums anymore. It's sad that people don't want to pay for music anymore. Fortunately, music isn't going anywhere. It'll be here until the end of humanity.
    ninjamo
    Pop music is just having a bad year, imo. I'm sure the state of the economy isn't helping, either.
    filipe26
    I think it's good the sales are going down for some. All artists who promote celebrity advertising deserve it. The only type of artist who deserves to have their albums bought are the ones who promote self and social awareness, and not alienation.
    StupidGenius11
    I'm more curious to see the trends of live performances and merchandise. I know that when I DID buy music, most of it was second hand, giving the artists precisely zero dollars anyways, and since I stopped, I've spent more on concerts and merchandise by several times at least. I would imagine many people spend as much or more on music as ever, it's just shifting from album sales towards other avenues. Obviously, part of that is the skyrocketing cost of big-venue concerts, but I'd like to see that aspect of the 'decline of the music industry'.