We begin this week with a quick quiz. Ready? Which store sells the most music in the U.S. of A.? Gotta be a big-name record store (that’s what we used to call them record stores), some place like Virgin Records or Fye, right? Wrong.
Let’s end the suspense. It’s Wal-Mart. They’re probably number one in movies-on-DVD sales as well.
Who’s number two in music sales in the U.S. of A? Gotta be Target or a consumer electronics superstore like Best Buy or Circuit City, right?
Wrong again. This week the industry analysts at NPD Group reported that Apple’s iTunes Store had leapfrogged Best Buy and Target to take over second place in music sales behind Wal-Mart. They also noted that, barring an unlikely change in the downward spiral of CD sales, the iTunes Store would shoot past Wal-Mart into the lead.
“Digital sales were up close to 50 percent and CD sales were down 20 percent last year” according to the NPD Group’s president of music, Russ Crupnick. "Even at half that growth rate in digital sales, Apple will in all likelihood catch Wal-Mart this year."
This probably isn’t big news to teens and twenty-somethings who’ve grown up in the age of digital downloads, legal and otherwise. But older folks (into their thirties and forties even my gosh, no one lives to be THAT old!) are obviously getting into the act as well.
So why the decline in CD sales? Perhaps the “album” format is on its last legs. Some albums contain songs tied together by a central theme or concept, which invite (and some would say require) purchasing the entire album intact. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” comes to mind. Other albums are so full of great songs (like Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, with around ten) that you want them all.
Somwe albums by both “classic” and contemporary “artists” (I don’t want to name any names here) contain maybe one or two songs you want, and the rest your skip over. Buying the physical CD requires you to therefore purchase music you might not want.Online music stores like iTunes allow pretty much a la carte selection of individual songs, as well as entire albums. You can “cherry-pick” just your favorite songs, creating your own “Greatest Hits of the 60s/70s/80s/90s” without enduring tortuous infomercials hosted by aging (an aged) adult contemporary superstars.
|© 2008 Peter F. Zimowski|