Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Music Business Bids Good Riddance to 2008, Gets Ready to Say the Same Thing to 2009

If you’ve read anything about the music business during the last eight years, you won’t be surprised to read the following summation for 2008, via The Wall Street Journal:

Increases in digitally downloaded albums and songs were not enough to offset a nearly 20% plunge in CD sales in the U.S., according to year-end figures published Wednesday by the Nielsen Co.’s SoundScan service… U.S. album sales including digital downloads fell 14% for the year, while factoring in individual song downloads, sales were off 8.5%.”

This is either the seventh or eighth year in the last decade where you could have run a similar paragraph, depending on who’s counting. The big picture is that the industry peaked in 2000, when online file-sharing/stealing/swapping/whatever-you-want-to-call-it became mainstream. It has yet to recover.

That recovery is still a long way off. Despite years of talk, the industry is still yoked to the inexorably declining CD business, which makes up the overwhelming majority of its sales and profits. So it’s going to keep declining for quite a while before it bottoms out.

The good news: If you’re only interested in listening to good music, and don’t care about the industry behind it, you have more options than anyone has ever had in the history of man. Enjoy yourself, and have a very merry new year. See you in 2009.

[Image Credit: Backstreet Boys concert photo, which has nothing to do with the clip above, via Anirudh Koul]


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work