what if we just stop putting out new music for awhile and see how it goes?
The past few weeks have been insufferable. Too much to hear and not enough time. I’ve probably added about thirty or forty new releases to my collection and almost every single one of them have been more than just merely good. Quite a few are enchanting, some are great. The rest are all damn good. Which makes it all so confounding to me.
Here’s the headline from last week’s Billboard Magazine:
Album Sales Plummet To Lowest Total In Decades
Sure…we all know music sales are down and out, but seeing it statistically in black and white is more than a little scary. Ed Christman who has been covering the record retail beat for a gazillion years had this to report:
For the week ending May 30, the U.S. music industry sold a total of 4,984,000 albums, according to Nielsen Soundscan. This figure, which includes new and catalog releases, represents the fewest number of albums sold in one week since Soundscan began compiling this data in 1994.
By comparison, album sales for the week ending May 31, 2009, totaled 5.76 million. The highest one-week tally recorded during the Soundscan era is 45.4 million albums, in late December, 2000.
That’s quite a swing in nine and a half years…no? Forty million units off the mark for one week. Here’s more:
The week’s record low comes as the major record companies continue to reckon with a decade-long decline in sales, and as other prominent sectors of the industry, such as the touring business, go through sea changes of their own.
Live music performances being hit hard too? A friend wants to see Neil Young. Tickets were $200. She passed. Too bad…she could have bought an eight dollar hot dog, five bucks worth of pop and a t-shirt for forty bills and helped out the economy.
Can anyone here guess what the “music industry” response might be to this news? C’mon…anybody?
Universal Music’s Jim Urie cites the low album total as “all the more reason why everyone in the industry should be focused on getting the U.S. Congress to introduce legislation that makes the Internet
service providers our allies in fighting piracy. Piracy is getting worse and worse and the government
needs to focus on that.”
Oh Jim…please not this tired old conspiracy theory again. The problem isn’t downloads, it’s overload.
(Note: Urie is the guy who is spearheading a $10 CD price point and was quoted as saying something like research has proven that lower prices stimulate sales. Hey, you know…nice guy and all but he’s a bit out of touch. Corporate offices will do that to you. )
There’s simply too much good music out there now compared to the old days and consumers just can’t find it anymore. They don’t sell it at Best Buy or Walmart or Trans World… and at all the cool indie stores they are too busy selling used vinyl and posters. Starbucks can only promote a couple titles a month and the book stores are exiting music.
So my new idea is simply this: stop making music.
There’s a huge surplus of great music. Let’s make the consumer buy it all up before we give them one more new release. And while we’re at it…no more concerts. We’ll starve them of the live experience until they beg us to buy a $200 ticket and t-shirt.
Yes. Tongue. Cheek.
Anyway…here’s just some of the stuff I’ve been checking out lately…not alphabetically:
-The new Mark Olson….July release
-Gary Louris at the Truck American Festival…he authorized the free download
-Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Mojo
-Inge Thomson…only available in the UK so far. She’s golden.
-Emily Jane White
-Karen Elson…White Stripe dude’s supermodel wife who sings like Neko Case I think.
-Tributes…the one for Shel Silverstein (did I spell that right?) and the indie lullaby thing.
-ones we discuss here: Joy Kills Sorrow/Crooked Still
-Chelsea Crowell….the daughter of those two.
-Peter Bradley Adams
-Teenage Fanclub…yes yes yes…my favorite of them all.