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The Year the Music Died

2011 February 19
by Steve Lawson

Music Industry Statistics – Sit Down Before You Read This

Thanks to blogger Michael DeGusta, here are a few statistics that will shock only those who haven’t been involved in the music business:

The music industry is down 45% from where it was in 1973.
The music industry is down 64% from its peak.

To put it in perspective:

26 years ago they spent almost twice as much as they do today.
10 years ago the average American spent almost 3 times as much on recorded music products as they do today.

What happened?

The music industry based its revenues and growth on sales of collections of songs (call them albums, or CDs or whatever).  Digital downloads (legal) have allowed people to buy just the songs they want.  Read the full story here.

The future?  Not so rosy.

According to DeGusta:

Downloaded albums & singles have grown nicely, but that is not nearly enough to offset the loss of the physical equivalents.

Mobile, which includes “Master Ringtunes, Ringbacks, Music Videos, Full Length Downloads, and Other Mobile”, hit its peak in 2007 and has actually been in decline the past 2 years.  Looks like the death of the ringtone – and possibly the birth of the iPhone?

Subscriptions – presumably Rhapsody, Zune Pass, and the like — have also drifted downward the past 2 years.

That only leaves internet & satellite radio – Pandora, etc — and others that pay via SoundExchange. It had a good uptick since 2007, but that’s when they negotiated royalty rates for online broadcasters. Even if they maintain some solid growth, it still adds up to a pittance.

Looks like the smaller and shrinking recorded music industry is here to stay.

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