Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

The Changing Face of the Music Industry

An interesting confluence of news and events today brings us information on declining CD sales at the same time that many in the blogosphere/podosphere are advocating an effort to “Bum Rush the Charts.”

First the news. The Wall Street Journal reports that “compact-disc sales for the first three months of this year plunged 20% from a year earlier.”  The newspaper describes this as “the latest sign of the seismic shift in the way consumers acquire music.”

The evidence from the WSJ is stark:

One week, “American Idol” runner-up Chris Daughtry’s rock band sold just 65,000 copies of its chart-topping album; another week, the “Dreamgirls” movie soundtrack sold a mere 60,000. As recently as 2005, there were many weeks when such tallies wouldn’t have been enough to crack the top 30 sellers. In prior years, it wasn’t uncommon for a No. 1 record to sell 500,000 or 600,000 copies a week.

Podcasting News takes this one on an says “While the music industry blames it on pirated music, there are more important reasons that CD sales are down.”  Among the other explanations: the technology is 25 years old, people can buy just the songs they like rather than a full album, and the fact that other media are playing a larger role in individuals’ lives.

But this all takes on an even more interesting flavor when you see the online effort today to drive an independent music song to the top of the iTunes charts.  Here’s a more complete description of the campaign:

We can match and exceed the reach of big media, corporate media, labels, and the entrenched interests. On March 22nd, we are going to take an indie podsafe music artist to number one on the iTunes singles charts as a demonstration of our reach to Main Street and our purchasing power to Wall Street.

Now I don’t go in for the whole anti-establishment angle, but I did do my part and bought the song today just to be part of the experiment.  It will be fascinating to see how successful it is.

Certainly a tectonic shift occurring in the music industry right now and definitely something to keep watching.

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