Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Music’s Sales Slump Slowed–But Not Stopped–By Michael Jackson and the Beatles

beatlesforsaleI don’t normally bother providing you with updates on the music industry’s revenue because the update has been the same for most of the last decade: Each quarter, the industry’s collective sales decline yet again.

But here’s a very slight twist: The sales decline slowed in the most recent quarter. U.S. sales dropped 11.1 percent in Q3, compared to a 14.5 percent drop in Q2, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Michael Jackson isn’t going to pass away again–and that unless they finally do come to Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes, there probably isn’t another way to repackage the Beatles again. Billboard:

Renewed interest in the Beatles and Michael Jackson slowed the decline of U.S. album sales in the third quarter, although the industry is still on track to fall for the eighth time in nine years….

Music retailers are hoping that the continued performance of Jackson and Beatles albums and a strong fourth-quarter release schedule will continue to make up lost ground.

During the quarter, Jackson’s June 25 death fueled sales of about 5 million units, and the September 9 re-release of the Beatles catalog has sold 1.3 million units so far.

So far this year 11 albums have topped the 1 million-unit mark, the same number as in 2008. In 2008, the top seller was Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III,” at 2.5 million units; this year’s top seller is Jackson’s “Number Ones,” at 1.8 million units.

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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