Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Is Music Industry on the Decline in terms of Sales and Quality?
It really makes me wonder, is the music industry is going downhill, not just in terms of sales as we know it, but also suffer from quality issues. I say that because the new decades is underwhelming compared to 2000s, 1990s and 1980s...
First, let's see the sales perspective. Music is one of the big three in Hollywood, including movies and video games, and make a bucket load of money for the industry alone. And like any other form of entertainment, music suffers from the rise of computers and Internet. As we all know, all are suffering from the piracy issues, but music suffers the worst among the three.
Piracy can hurt billions of dollars in all stuffs, ie movies, music, games, books, gadget, you name it. But why music is the worst of all? Music don't have any special anti-piracy software to curb the increasing piracy. Movies have Blu-ray installed with special DRM that makes it hard for people to hack into and burn into a Blu-ray disc, although that doesn't stop piracy, but with the quality have to be down-scaled to DVD quality and time consuming, it does slow those pirates down. Video Games have several methods: online authentication, always online to ensure it is genuine and the harshest method, lock down your whole system down so you can't play it. Music is ridiculously easy to pirate, pop the disc into a PC, click rip and upload to sharing sites.
Besides piracy, people buy music no more. Since the born of Internet store and Internet radio, people are less likely to buy a whole album. Take iTunes for example, when you listen something nice on the radio, you go to the iTunes store and download that certain song, instead of the whole album. Some stream the song instead of download it. Album sales in the past can reach tens of millions during their lifetime, now they are just a fraction of the number. For example, 2010 most critically received and the biggest debut so far, Eminem's new album Recovery first week sales was under 800k, while the past he can sell millions in a week (others artists included)
Quality side, I do see a decline as well. I have a lot of 2010 songs in my Windows Media Library, but most of the time I still scrolling down the year, 2009 and before, to click and listen instead of 2010 playlists. I also play a lot of past years songs on my phone and iPod instead of 2010. Don't be mistaken, I still love 2010 songs, but the number of "favourites" list are significantly less compared to 2009. Some artists took a eternally long hiatus to make their new album and still don't see a new release since 2006 (Justin Timberlake focus on others instead of his music), artists' comeback that is disappointing (Christina Aguilera new album, Bionic is disappointing after few years of anticipations and compared to her Jazz entry, Back to Basics) and some even come out a few years and never heard of them ever again.
So, in conclusion. I think the music industry's effort this year is lacking the spark of creativity and face tough battle against music purchase and piracy people choose. Artists these days makes more money on tour rather than on album sales, no wonder the concerts are getting more and more these days...