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Music Album Sales in Nose-Down Dive

PhonographThe Wall Street Journal reported that for the ninth time in 10 years, U.S. music album sales continued to decline. The total of CDs and digital albums purchased was 326 million while the number of individual songs purchased was 1.2 billion. The album purchases were up 13% while the individual songs were up just 1%. Mozart is probably the longest running success but in the current age, the top-selling album was Eminem’s “Recovery” which sold 3.4 million copies. I suspect most of the readers of patrickWeb are not familiar with the rapper. The best-selling song was Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” which sold 4.4 million copies, a bit less than last year’s champ, the Black Eyed Peas’s “Boom Boom Pow” which sold 4.8 million copies.

It took the music industry a long time to figure out that digital music was for real. It took consumers seconds to figure out that buying a track of music they liked was better than being forced to buy an album containing the track they liked plus a bunch of tracks they did not like. Now the cable industry has to figure out that consumers want to buy channels a la carte. Newspaper and magazine publishers have to figure out that consumers want to subscribe to news on their own terms. Maybe Time or Wired are worth $5 for an occasional copy on the iPad but they are not worth $5 per copy to someone who wants to read every issue. The bottom line is that consumers want choice. That is what the Internet has given them. Industries that do not embrace the Internet and offer choices to consumers will be disintermediated. That is a fancy word which means they become toast. It may take some time but eventually the Internet will prevail. I only see three threats to the continued grass roots expansion of the Internet — AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.

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