The picture says it all...

What I found surprising was the significant downturn in digital sales as well as CD’s?? :astonished: I wasn’t expecting see that…

Oh, happy days … :unamused:

Doesn’t surprise me at all. This downturn affects the major players in the business sector, more than it does the artists themselves. The vast majority of artists using the CD and digital mediums (in the later years) weren’t even pulling in enough to make a living. Just as the “American Dream” the dream of the musician to “make it” has become a daunting task.

I’m confused. Although CD sales have been declining – everyone knows that – I thought digital sales had been steadily growing – not making up the loss, but offsetting it some


The decline in empathy continues.

Fame seekers remain.

A decidedly poor exchange.

As long as free music flows, it will decline.

The only answer is to stop the flow at the source.

I have to wonder if we have the stamina for that.

I think this trend is there in movies, books (e-books) and other art forms too.
IMO it can’t be stopped, so the old thing of getting rich directly by composing music or writing books and releasing it will soon be a thing of the past.
Money now for a band/artist lies in playing live, and not the record/cd itself.

Another/better and more lasting way to make money on music is by being the producer/mixer/engineer of a cd/production/demo.
The band/artist will almost always need someone to do that for them since most of them are imbeciles when it comes to anything other than playing their own instrument/singing and writing songs :wink:
Also they mostly won’t have the gear or knowledge to record and mix their songs in a “pro” way.

Lets face it:
Copy protection of music/movies/art has failed, and did so a long time ago.
I mean: even if they digitally protect a cd from copying I can still run the analog outs from my cd player, dump that into wavelab and make mp3’s out of it and post it on the net. Nobody would ever hear the difference.

Thank gawd I compose music for my own pleasure these days and that I make my money elsewhere.
The money I make on the side from music now is from playing live and producing for others.

I actually don’t care anymore either, I hope as many people as possible will hear my music, but I’ve given up on earning real money on that aspect of my musical life.

All the best, Kim :slight_smile:

Well put, I agree

Kim :slight_smile:

Couple of points . . .

First, the graph is in $ not units sold . . .

Obviously there is a correlation - but did “units sold” increase that much from, say, 84 to 2001?

Or was that due to pricier CDs?

And is any of the fall off of recent due to LESS Expensive digital downloads and other discounts?

Total $ is still higher than 84 . . . lot of people got rich in 84 . . . just sayin’ … .

And - is it adjusted for inflation? Technical point but it can make a enormous difference.


Obviously you are looking right at the chart and failing to make relevant interpretations of the data.

There is a big red part of the graph there that shows the decline in online sales.

Total $ is still higher than 84 . . . lot of people got rich in 84 . . . just sayin’ … .

You are also not well versed in history.

As always, a few at the top, perhaps 5 - 10%, did make some money. Probably not as much as you think. A very few high profile people made you think otherwise. The rest mostly didn’t make money.

More players now, so those bucks are spread much thinner.

Well . . . I mean . . . Obviously you are looking right at the chart and failing to realize that the measured unit is Dollars, not units sold. If the same number of units sell for less, Dollar sales decline - but people are still paying for the same amount of music, essentially.

Uhm . . . yeah. Point others made was that people won’t be able to make a living off of recorded media NOW. But there is a larger dollar volume of sales NOW than there was in 85 - when, I guess, they WERE making a living . . . or at least that greedy 5-10% . . .

Let the Revolution Begin!


Here are a couple of graphs which show “Units Shipped” rather than “Turnover in Dollars”.

The site says “US Specific” - not sure whether this means:
US manufactured albums and singles sold anywhere in the world
All countries’s albums and singles sold in the US.

Original site:

Maybe the spike in the graph reveals (in part) it took 20 years for folks to replace/supplement their vinyl and cassette collections with CDs that retailed at a much higher price point?

Growing as a % of sales yes.

They aren’t called ‘dreams’ for nothing. :slight_smile:

So, what this graph is saying is that in 2009 the aggregate turnover for the music business is around $7.5B. And labels churn out disposable pap that has to be made in DAW based studios, because nobody can afford a place with a Neve and a Studer, and a room designed by Bill Putnam, and nobody gets developed because there isn’t the money and you have to hit and run with what’s popular, and A&Rs can’t afford to check out new talent, and piracy is crippling the industry and basically it’s doomed

And back in 1973 it was around $2B. When the studio majors held sway, and signed artists were developed properly and Pink Floyd were allowed a year at Abbey Road to make DSOTM, and A&Rs would listen to demos and there was a good chance that if you had a reasonable amount of talent you might get someone to notice and a three album deal (albeit on the most atrocious contract terms) wasn’t completely out of the ball-park and there was no piracy to speak of (apart from the ‘home taping’ thing) and everyone agrees that these were the glory days.

And adjusting for a dolar inflation rate over the period of 4.54% - according to a quickly googled source - todays $7.5B is the equivalent of $1.5B back then. So despite the music business being in such desperate and dire peril now, in fact it has shrunk by 25% in real terms.

I’m not saying that a 25% reduction isn’t significant, but it’s not necessarily consummate with the perceived state of the business either. Fact is at it’s peak (on this graph) in 1999, inflation adjusted to 1973 the music industry was doing about twice the business it was in 1973. There’s no doubt there is a major downturn, but perhaps it’s not necessarily all down to the drivers traditionally attributed to the music business’ woes.

Percentage of revenue, or units sold?

From the various graphs linked to in this thread, it appears that

digital sales have increased as a % of sales
digital sales have also increased in terms of units sold
but for some reason digital sales are falling in terms of overall revenue

My theory on this is it is because sites like Spotify and Rhapsody are netting less per copy in revenue due to their business model.

If you take into consideration the fact that US population has grown by about 40% (85,000,000) since the mid 1970’s, the decline or stagnation in sales takes on an even grimmer picture

One other thing to possibly consider. . .

There might be a “Grass Roots” media market that is not fully represented in these various charts due to the fact that it is Artist direct to Audience and basically unreported.

I mean, one thing that declining costs and increasing quality (in leaps and bounds) of recording gear has facilitated - in concert with the Internet - is the artists ability to create quality stuff and market direct to fans . . . forget the record companies.

The individual sales are smaller, obviously, but when an act sells 5000 CD’s at $10 a pop . . . that’s probably more than the great majority of signed acts ever see from a Record/Media company - especially after “charge-backs” of Studio Time, Advertising, Free Copies, Tour Supports, etc.

So there might be a Good Thing bubbling under all this misery . .



Absolutely. Just ask surf-guitarist D-i-c-k Dale!

Absolutely. Even on my micro-scale the revenue I earn through offering my services to others FAR exceeds anything I’ve ever earned through sales of my own music. My small band has also recently been offered a couple of cafe gigs - the income from those would easily equate to around 20 or more CD’s sold via CDBaby. And I haven’t had a physical CD sold via them in over a year.

Looks pretty much identical to the graph I posted above.

That’s quite likely I suspect Nick. During that time I did just that… steadily replaced all my favourite vinyl with CD’s.