THE 2010 NUMBERS ARE IN: ALBUMS SALES ARE STILL F*CKED
Album sales peaked in the year 2000 when 942.5 million CDs flew off the shelves in a pre-digital marketplace. According to Metal Insider [via Billboard], album sales in 2010 — including all physical and digital formats — dropped to 326.2 million, a 12.8% drop from 2009 and a 65% drop from 2000. Sales of the CD format of albums fell by nearly 20% for the fourth year in a row. Wow!
But not all sales news is doom and gloom: digital album sales posted a 13% gain to 86.3 million and vinyl continues its comeback, selling 2.8 million, a 14% increase from 2009. With 46% of all music being sold digitally, 2010 could be the last year where there are more physical sales than digital ones.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, all of these statistics should be taken with a giant asterisk; album sales do not paint the entire picture of the music industry. Live show revenue and sales of merchandise have always made up the majority of income for all bands except those at the absolute top, and labels are increasingly sharing in those revenue streams too. Total live show revenues across the world have posted huge gains every year since 2006. It could easily be argued that the music industry as a whole is healthier than it’s ever been; for a much more complete picture I encourage you to take a look at this visual report of all sectors of the music industry put together at ClickTicket.com where you’ll see that the picture is much less bleak than the RIAA would have you believe.