This morning’s New York Times includes a story about the Japanese – apparently good old shiny plastic CDs still account for about 87% of music sales in the country, long on both progress and nostalgia. As such, they still have a 9 story flagship Tower Records in Tokyo. Here at home, the article reports that physical CDs account for 40% of music sales, a low number that’s still higher than in much of Europe.
The article also reports nonchalantly that sales in the industry are off about half – yes, 50% – since 2000. I don’t know what industry can survive that kind of revenue meltdown; it’s a total game changer. I don’t really know much about the online music world, but it seems to me that two types of artists can do well – megastars with big labels and big fan bases who can monopolize the online musical advertising space, and relatively new artists who now have many new channels of distribution open to them that can provide the ages-old “breakthrough” to more people than a few label talent scouts and agents can dig up.
While I’ve been saddened to watch the digital market take away bricks and mortar record and book stores since the turn of the century, I’m also a creature who loves human progress, so I’m imagining that we’re just in the middle of a big change here. How it will ultimately shake out is anyone’s guess. I remember the first time I paid to download a tune – I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember that it was some older song and I would never have done so if I had been required to buy the whole album.
Thanks for reading.